origin of the verb ‘bogart’ (to monopolise)



to bogart something: to selfishly or greedily appropriate or keep something, originally and especially a marijuana cigarette




Dennis Eskow gave the following explanations in the Tucson Daily Citizen (Tucson, Arizona) of 3rd March 1971:

“Don’t Bogart that joint, my friend, pass it over to me,” was the opening line of a rock song recorded by the Holy Modal Rounders1 in 1968. […]
Bogarting a joint refers to the way Bogey2 held a cigarette for long dialogues without smoking it.

1 In fact, the song in question, copyrighted as Don’t Bogart That Joint on 8th January 1968 (words by Larry ‘Stash’ Wagner – music by Elliot Ingber), was first interpreted by the American band Fraternity of Man; it was popularised by the American film Easy Rider (1969), the soundtrack of which featured the song under the title Don’t Bogart Me.

2 Bogey, or Bogie, was the nickname of the American actor Humphrey DeForest Bogart (1899-1957)—cf. also notes on various acceptations of the term ‘rat pack’ and ‘here’s looking at you’ (used as a toast in drinking).


The verb was apparently used in Taking Off (1971), a film by the Czech director Miloš Forman (born 1932); in the review published in The Nashville Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee) of 3rd June 1971, Harry Haun wrote:

Forman hilariously institutionalizes it [= misery] with a fictitious group called the Society for the Parents of Fugitive Children. An indication of the kindness of his comedy occurs at an elaborate S.P.F.C. banquet […].
The floor-show […] is an orientation session in grass smoking. A wild-haired pothead wafts forward to turn on the old-timers, acquaint them with dope terminology (“joint,” “Bogarting it,” etc.) and remind them that all butts are to be turned in to him.

Laura Sanders used the verb in a non-specific sense in The Home News (New Brunswick, New Jersey) of 7th November 1980 (Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) had just been elected President of the USA):

The “Desperate Journey” over, “Brother Rat” has joined “The Winning Team,” at least in the land of television, where Ronald Reagan movies have hit “King’s Row.”
United Artists, owner of the air rights to 32 of the 50-some movies Reagan made in his film years as the wavy-haired All-American Hero, reports that the demand for such unforgettables as “Dark Victory” and “Boy Meets Girl” has increased “in spotted fashion.”
A few stations – WCHL, WKBS – are bogarting their air time. “We have no plans to run them,” said Jim Sirmans, associate director of television press for WCBS-TV. In explanation, he quoted Jack Warner Jr. of Warner Brothers: “If my father had given Reagan better movies, he never would have been in politics.”


With allusion to the series of strong, tough characters played by Humphrey Bogart, the verb bogart is also used to mean to bully, intimidate, to force, coerce. For instance, on 19th October 1973, the Richmond Review (Richmond, British Columbia) published Foxx hires pals from lean years, about the American comedian Redd Foxx (John Elroy Sanford – 1922-91), star of CTV’s sitcom Sanford and Son, which contains:

Joe Busby met Redd in later years and was not originally asked to be in the series. However, when he heard the gang was going, he came too. Redd subsequently nicknamed him “Bogart” because he bogarted (slang expression for “forced”) his way on the show.

4 thoughts on “origin of the verb ‘bogart’ (to monopolise)

  1. The term “bogarting it” was already being used by my parents generation ( born 1914 & 1921) when I was born in 1951. It meant selfishly hogging not aggressive behavior nor use of force or coersion. That early 70’s reference is at least 30 years after the phrase originated. It was out of mainstream use by the sixties, so that was a later use by somebody using a then-old-fashioned phrase.


    1. Thank you for the facts that you’ve provided.
      Do you happen to know of any use in print, predating the 1968 song by Fraternity of Man, of ‘bogart’ in the sense ‘to monopolise’? Perhaps the marijuana-related meaning in the song originated in the usage that you mention.
      Do you think this song might have re-popularised the verb and led to the more general meaning in the early-1970s use that I’ve quoted?


  2. I understood the “bogarting” phrase to be based on the 1948 movie The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, where Humphey Bogarts character becomes obsessed with hording gold – to the point of betraying his friends.


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