to frog-march

From the NYT on the 9th, “Two Are Charged in Killing of Boris Nemtsov: by Neil MacFarquhar, beginning:

Moscow — Two Chechens, one a police officer who fought Islamic insurgents and the second a security guard, were charged in a Moscow court on Sunday in connection with the killing of Boris Y. Nemtsov, a leading Kremlin critic, while three other suspects were jailed pending further investigation.

… Given the intense national interest in the case, the arrival of the men in court was broadcast on state television. Uniformed security agents wearing black balaclavas frog-marched the suspects, bent over and wearing handcuffs, into the courthouse. Security forces established a tight cordon around it.

My interest is in the verb to frog-march here.

A photograph of the occasion:


The story of the verb begins with the noun. From OED3 (November 2010):

slang (orig. Brit.). Usu. in form frog’s march. Chiefly with the. A method of moving a resistant person (such as a prisoner), in which he or she is lifted by the arms and legs and carried in a prone position with the face pointing towards the ground; the action or an act of moving a person using this method, or an instance of being moved in this way. [first cite 1871]

The image is of a frog pinned down on a dissection tray.

At some point, the noun was extended to less extreme methods of moving a reluctant or resisting person forwards, namely by seizing the collar or by pinning the arms behind the back. The noun was then verbed in this sense, with a first cite in 1931.

Bonus. If you check the wordsmith site on frogmarch, you’ll find this much-downloaded photo, which purports to be of Karl Rove being frogmarched:


But as the site notes, this is a photoshopped image, not a genuine one.

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