I came across the word grubstake in a book I’m reading at the moment and it caught my attention because I haven’t seen it before. It appears in the following context:
“From the moment I first arrived back in New York, my father has wanted me to leave the city. He would be happy to grubstake my move to greener pastures.”
From this I can guess that grubstaking probably involves providing financial support, though without the context one might guess that it might be a kind of food.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, grubstake means:
1 : supplies or funds furnished a mining prospector on promise of a share in his discoveries
2 : material assistance (as a loan) provided for launching an enterprise or for a person in difficult circumstances
The American Heritage Dictionary provides the following definition:
1. noun Supplies or funds advanced to a mining prospector or a person starting a business in return for a promised share of the profits.
2. transitive verb To supply with funds in return for a promised share of profits.
The site Take Our Word For It defines a grubstake as
“a supply of food (grub) which a wealthy investor would provide a gold prospector in exchange for a share (stake) in whatever gold might be found.”
It was probably coined during the California gold rush of 1849 and first appeared in writing in 1863.
Grub has been as a slang word for food since at least 1650 and is still used in this way in the UK. Is it used in other Anglophone countries?