Printable Version
Pronunciation: kæj Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: (Colloquial) To mooch, bum, sponge, or beg; to panhandle.

Notes: Today's Good Word is used more in Britain than in the US. In the US we use mooch in pretty much the same sense. Even in Britain it is a bit old-fashioned according to the MacMillan Dictionary. The abstract and personal nouns are straightforward: cadging and cadger, respectively. The adjective cadgy is long since obsolete.

In Play: In Britain we might hear this: "Let's knock up Gretchen and see if we can cadge a cuppa from her." Translated into US English that would be, "Let's knock on Gretchen's door and see if we can mooch a cup of tea from her." The English language separates the Brits and the Yanks as much as it unites us.

Word History: The origin and original meaning of today's Good Word is veiled in mystery. In some early passages the spelling varied between cache, cacche, and catch. This last spelling suggests it may have been a variant of catch, along the lines of such pairs as hotchpotch : hodgepodge, botch : bodge, and smutch : smudge. The first historical spelling suggests today's word may have come from Old French cacher "to put away, hide". Either explanation is only speculation, of course. If the first is correct, and the origin is catch, we can trace the word's history from that point back. In Middle English it was cacchen from Old North French cachier "to chase", inherited from Latin captare "to seize". English borrowed various words with the same root, which went into the making of capture, captive and captious. The original word came to English through its Old Germanic origins as have. (Kathleen McCune of Norway may freely cadge a word of thanks from us for submitting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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