The word “stogie” can be used in different ways by different people. While some use it as a catchall synonym for cigar, others reserve the term for cheap or low-quality cigars. This confusion can cause an awkward situation if you refer to a friend’s $20 stick as a stogie. At the end of the day, both definitions of stogie are acceptable according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, but it is still a word with an interesting history and evolution.
To trace the meaning of stogie, you have to go back to the 1800’s, when covered wagons were traversing the country and discovering the new frontier. These covered wagons were referred to as “Conestoga wagons,” since they were usually manufactured near Conestoga, Pennsylvania. As these wagons grew in popularity, their name slowly became associated with characteristics of the drivers just as much as the wagons themselves.
Borrowing from the second half of “Conestoga,” the word stogie initially referred to the thick, durable shoes that wagon drivers wore. In fact, that still stands as the primary definition of the word today. But eventually, “stogie” began to shift to other common attributes of wagon drivers, such as the cheap cigars they were often seen smoking. Characterized by their long, slender construction, these cigars were a favorite of wagon drivers from all corners of the country, not just Conestoga.
Today, the word stogie is almost universally avoided by modern day cigar companies, likely due to the word’s connotations of poor quality. Still, when referring to a stick that requires no special occasion, or a bundle of cigars that you don’t mind sharing with friends, stogie certainly has its place.