I used the word fogey yesterday… meaning not just an old person, but an old-fashioned, stuck in their ways, stuck in the mud sort of person… I was just checking the spelling on whether it was fogey or fogy (it can be either, although more commonly the former) and I got a little side-tracked by looking at its origin and etymology… it happens so often!
There seems to be some agreement about the origins, but a little disagreement over its derivation. Certainly by 1780 ‘foggie’ was used in Scotland and referred to an ex or former, pensioned soldier , and it may have been connected to an older word ‘fogram’ which meant very much what fogey does today…. or was it connected to ‘fog’ – not the misty stuff but moss… or was it ‘foggy’ meaning bloated and fat? The fat idea would go back to a word first noted in the early sixteenth century.
Or was all that Scottish connection a coincidence or was it incorrect and the true derivation was from a French word – fougeux which means fierce or fiery and was a nickname for a wounded soldier (there is that soldier theme running through the different ideas!) … except how can a wounded soldier be fierce or fiery… Which sends my thoughts back to my first visit to France when I was a child and on the metro there were seats for ‘mutilés de guerrre’.
Fogey doesn’t just apply to actual old people, these days it can be anyone who has fogeyish tendencies, someone who isn’t just older than their years in their thoughts and attitudes, but maybe also in their appearance and maybe even their way of life! I hope I’m not fogeyish in any way at all… but how can you tell? I’ll have to ask my children!
Here are some other fogey-related words –
- young fogey
- old fogey
… and here’s a link to an interesting article exploring aspects of fogeyism: