Words: tote, adj. and v.

A CURIOUS aspect of Neil Hamilton's libel case is his daily arrival at court with a London Library tote bag prominently displayed. One must wonder what that august and congenial private library makes of this unusual product placement.

The tote bag in general surfaced at the end of the last century in America, and was also a tote box for tools; as a verb for carry - distinct from our sense of total and the Australian betting slang - it is recorded in mid-17th-century New England, which means that any Negro or Indian origins are discounted by the OED. The latter overlooks Graham Greene's celebrated account of Jean Harlow's "restless shoulders and protuberant breasts: her technique was the gangster's technique - she toted a breast like a man totes a gun".

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