probably from O.E. *picg, found in compounds, ultimate origin unknown. Originally "young pig" (the word for adults was swine). Another O.E. word for "pig" was fearh, related to furh "furrow," from PIE *perk- "dig, furrow" (cf. L. porc-us "pig," see pork
). "This reflects a widespread
IE tendency to name animals from typical attributes or activities" [Lass]. Synonyms grunter, porker are from sailors' and fishermen's euphemistic avoidance of uttering the word pig at sea, a superstition perhaps based on the fate of the Gadarene swine, who drowned. The meaning "oblong piece of metal" is first attested 1589, on the notion of "large mass." The derogatory slang meaning "police officer" has been in underworld slang since at least 1811; pig out "eat like a pig" is 1979; pig-headed is 1620; pigskin as slang for "football" is from 1894, though as word for saddle leather it is from 1855. Pig Latin first recorded 1937. Pigsty is from 1591; fig. use for "miserable, dirty hovel" is attested from 1820.