Printable Version
Pronunciation: kah-jêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. (Mildly deprecative) Geezer, eccentric old man. 2. A term of endearment for a cute little child.

Notes: This word is so often used in the phrase 'old codger' that it has taken on the sense of "old" itself when referring to a man. A little codger is a cute child of either gender.

In Play: This word is so mildly deprecative that it is often used almost as a term of endearment: "Jerry Attrick is a daft old codger who doesn't know his head from a hole in the ground." It is certainly a term of endearment when used in referring to children: "The other day I saw a cute little codger, about two years old, sitting in a wheelbarrow and crying because he couldn't wheel himself."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a mispronunciation of cadger in the sense of "peddler, beggar". Cadger is the personal noun from cadge, itself probably a mispronunciation of catch in a class with botch - bodge and grutch - grudge. Beggars often had to catch coins tossed at them by passers-by. Catch originated as an English borrowing of Old North French cachier "to catch, capture", which it inherited from Latin captiare "chase, try to seize". Latin got its word from PIE kap- "to grab", source also of Sanskrit kapati "two handfuls", Albanian kap "catch", Latin capere, captus "to take, taken", Welsh caeth "captive", and Cornish keth "captive". Since PIE [k] became [kh] in Germanic languages, we are not surprised to find German haben "to have", Dutch hebben "have", and English have after the reduction of [kh] to [h] in Old Germanic.

Dr. Goodword,

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