Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A bag carried over one shoulder to transport supplies, as on a hike.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small, strong bag carried on the back or the shoulder, usually with only one strap. Originally made of canvas.
  • n. oat-sack, or nose-bag for a horse.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A bag for oats or oatmeal.
  • n. A bag or case, usually of stout cloth, in which a soldier carries his rations when on a march; -- distinguished from knapsack.
  • n. A gunner's case or bag used to carry cartridges from the ammunition chest to the piece in loading.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A sack for oats or oatmeal.
  • n. A bag used for holding the food that a soldier carries on his person, as one or more days' rations. It is usually carried by a belt slung over the shoulder.
  • n. In artillery, a leather bag used to carry cartridges from the ammunition-chest to the piece in loading.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a bag carried by a strap on your back or shoulder

Etymologies

French havresac, from obsolete German Habersack : German dialectal Haber, oats (from Middle High German habere, from Old High German habaro) + German Sack, bag (from Middle High German sac, from Old High German, from Latin saccus; see sack1).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
The term derived through the French from German language Hafersack and Dutch language haverzak, meaning an oat-sack, a nose-bag for a horse. Hafer and haver meant oats. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • But Clem, after looking round suspiciously among the litter of waterproofs, walking-sticks, nets, rods, and golf-clubs, took down Vin's fishing haversack from a hook on the wall.

    Mrs. Miniver

  • All the food he had left in his haversack was a cup of cornmeal, so he drew together sticks to make a fire for cooking mush.

    Cold Mountain

  • In the haversack is a pannikin with a hinged handle that may be used as a saucepan.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 1178, June 25, 1898

  • All I had in my haversack was a single hard biscuit, after munching which I lay down upon the ground and fell instantly asleep.

    My Lady of Doubt

  • The cauldron had probably contained some perishable material such as grain, which had decayed and been replaced by sand from the grave fill, and the lamb chops and the bronze bowl had originally been in some kind of haversack or kit bag, along with some other perishable food perhaps bread or fruit?

    Archive 2008-07-01

  • She had a kind of haversack, all bejeweled like the rest of her, and she took from it a considerable quantity of very thin transparent membrane, resembling plass.

    The Golden Torc

  • The explosive was kept in a blue and red "haversack", he said.

    The Times of India

  • The explosive was kept in a blue and red "haversack", he said. comment Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the

    Hindustan Times News Feeds 'Views'

  • It reminded me to look up if "haversack" is a real word ( "Bag shark lost in cave" for those curious).

    Discover Blogs

  • When I was a kid I was always fascinated with what was in my dads "haversack".

    Caught in the Crossfire - Articles

Comments

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  • You'll love it, uselessness. It's fascinating stuff.

    October 18, 2007

  • The what? Don't hint at such marvels, my boy, unless you're prepared to expound upon the reference.

    October 18, 2007

  • Speaking of calling people with strange questions, I got an unexpected call late one night asking me if I knew anything about the vowels in English changing over time and I launched into a 10 minute explanation of the Great English Vowel Shift.

    October 18, 2007

  • Erlack!

    October 18, 2007

  • True. And not only can the topic slack, but it can take another tack into a discussion of sacks. Or slacks. And the comments start to stack once the Wordies come back.

    October 17, 2007

  • It's okay. The haversack page is a happenstance stage, where the topic can slack and the jokes fall off track.

    October 17, 2007

  • Actually, that usage for a gunner's bag is obsolete. I just made a few phone calls (I love it that I know whom to call with weird questions like this), and found out 1) the artillery charges are usually kept in a box, called a limber-box, and 2) when in a bag, it's just called an artillery bag. That's for the big cartridges, for the cannon--not for the priming charges, which are still kept in a cartridge box.

    Oh shit. I ruined the haversack conversation!! Aaagh!

    October 17, 2007

  • Isn't there a town called Haversack in PA? Or am I completely insane? (Those two are not mutually exclusive, BTW.)

    Bartleby sez:

    (from E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.)

    Strictly speaking is a bag to carry oats in. (See HAVER-CAKES.) It now means a soldier’s ration-bag slung from the shoulder; a gunner’s leather-case for carrying charges.

    October 17, 2007

  • Aw, just kidding. Pack up your troubles in your haversack, have a knot, and go to Hackensack. You'll feel better. :-)

    October 17, 2007

  • I couldn't possibly add to this glorious mess of yours. I'm just here to watch the fireworks.

    October 17, 2007

  • Now don't get into that here, chained_bear, and mess up our nice haversack page!

    Hmph.

    October 17, 2007

  • But NOT to a satchel of shite.

    October 17, 2007

  • Maybe similar to a bag of contents.

    October 16, 2007

  • I. Cannot. Believe. I missed this one.

    October 16, 2007

  • Ohhhh, well if it's Hackensack we're talking about--why, that changes everything. We'll need to start all over again. ;-)

    July 20, 2007

  • Hackensack lots get haversacked, lots. With double the havers, and double the knots.

    July 20, 2007

  • Yeah but what if they live in Hackensack?

    July 20, 2007

  • Trying...to...parse...

    July 19, 2007

  • Haversacks cannot sack the havers without having havers inside and a sturdy knot tied. Sack the sack knots on the have-notters' sacks, and you'll sack all the sacking of havers and lots.

    July 19, 2007

  • Well, if the Havers' sacks are tightly knotted it will take longer for the have-notters to sack the havers' oats and what not.

    July 19, 2007

  • I see your point, U. If the have-notters have haversacks, they are no longer have-notters. Furthermore, once the have-notters get haversacks, they will sack and pillage the havers' oats and what not. Clearly, haversacks are a danger to the class of havers and should be banned! Off with their heads!

    July 19, 2007

  • So if the havers have havers and the have-nots do not, and the havers have things that the have-notters do not, and the have-notters have nots and what-not, which the havers may or may not have, then here's my question:

    Do the haversacks have knots, or not?

    July 19, 2007

  • It's a struggle between the haves (havers) and the have-nots (have-notters), in which the havers have things, which are havers, also known as oats, and the have-notters have nots and what not. Of course the latter have no need for haversacks, for they have no havers. But the havers have havers, and the haversacks are put to good use.

    July 19, 2007

  • Oats, I tell ya. All is oats.

    July 19, 2007

  • Wait. What's not in a what's-notter's haversack? The haved things? Or the haven't things? Or does the haver have the things but not the haver's sack to put things in?

    July 19, 2007

  • Are you sure you don't mean the Haver's sack? There are Have-notter's sacks, too, you know. They are filled with nots and what not.

    July 19, 2007

  • Provided the haver has them. If the things are not had by the haver, it becomes a haven'tersack.

    July 19, 2007

  • Or just the haver's container for putting things in, even if said things aren't actually in said container.

    That's what I said.

    July 19, 2007

  • Must be the bag in which someone who has something puts the thing that he has.

    July 19, 2007

  • A small strong bag carried on one shoulder. Originally a small bags carrield by cavalry troops for horse provender. Literally, "oat bag."

    July 19, 2007