Student Dictionary

2 entries found for sabotage.
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Main Entry: 1sab·o·tage
Pronunciation: primarystresssab-schwa-secondarystresstäzh
Function: noun
Etymology: from French sabotage "destruction of property to hinder a manufacturing or war effort," from saboter "to clatter around wearing sabots, botch," from sabot "a wooden shoe"
1 : destruction of an employer's property or the action of making it difficult to work by discontented workers
2 : destructive or blocking action carried on by enemy agents or sympathizers to make a nation's war effort more difficult
Word History In French the word sabot refers to "a wooden work shoe." Naturally, walking around in such shoes can be noisy, so the verb saboter was formed and used to mean "to clatter with sabots." From this verb the French derived the noun sabotage, meaning "the making of sabots." In time sabotage acquired the added sense of "the botching or bungling of something." Apparently, walking in these clumsy, clattering shoes became associated with working in a careless or slipshod way. Later the word was used for "the deliberate destruction of an employer's property." This kind of sabotage was done by workers in order to force employers to agree to their demands. This sense of sabotage was borrowed into English around 1890. The term was especially appropriate during the great French railway strike of 1910 when the strikers destroyed the wooden devices (also called sabots) holding the rails in place. Since World War I sabotage has been commonly used for "actions taken by enemy agents against a nation's war effort."

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