Would you like this last bit of summer pudding, Céline? asked my mother-in-law.
No, thank you, said I. However, I think I will bagsy it for tomorrow.
Rarely had my in-laws’ dining-room witnessed such outrageous behaviour, which was swiftly condemned by all present. You can’t bagsy pudding for the day after! Was the consensus around the table.
I’ve always loved this very useful concept, which is handily conveyed by the verb bagsy in English. There is a French equivalent, preums, (prem’s or preumz, etc), but it is an interjection, which is not as malleable as a verb and is only really useful in the present. So you can imagine my disappointment when my clever move to secure the last bit of summer pudding was firmly denied.
The origin of the French word seems obvious (premier means first) and the Oxford English Dictionary tells us that bagsy comes from bags I and has examples from 1866 onwards.
Word detective also tells us that
A child in Southern England […] might exclaim “Bags it” or “Baggsy,” whereupon by the sacred code of children the prize is hers. Her London counterpart might say “Squits,” and still further north a child would say “Foggy,” “Furry” or “Firsy.” Other words which seem to work as well include “Barley,” “Bollars,” “Jigs” and, in Scotland, “Chaps” or “Chucks.” Our American friends favour “dibs”.