O.E. hrycg "back of a man or beast," probably reinforced by O.N. hryggr "back, ridge," from P.Gmc. *khrugjaz (cf. O.Fris. hregg, O.S. hruggi, Du. rug, O.H.G. hrukki, Ger. Rücken "the back"), of uncertain origin. Also in O.E., "the top or crest of anything," especially when long and narrow. The connecting notion is of the "ridge" of the backbone. Ridge-runner "Southern Appalachian person" first recorded 1917.