This week’s word is fossicking because I met it recently and loved it on sight. It’s fun to say aloud (pronunciation here) and the word origin makes perfect sense.
But first to definition. Merriam Webster tells me that it’s an Australian/New Zealand verb meaning to “to search for gold or gemstones typically by picking over abandoned workings”. The context I found it in used it more casually as a substitute for “rummage”. I like the idea of fossicking about in an antique shop looking for a unique find or in a bookshop seeking that perfect read for the weekend.
Apparently it comes from English and means to ferret out something (ferrets being animals which are pretty good at seeking things) and it was first used in 1852 so it’s got some past history.
Finding it was a local verb made me think about a variant I’ve encountered only amongst my in-laws in Cavan, Ireland – pooching. The concept for pooching is that you’re looking around, somewhat randomly, generally not at home. My mother-in-law likes to pooch around my house when she visits, to see any changes we’ve made to the decor. Surely that’s the same as fossicking? The dictionaries only have pooch as a term for a dog or as a verb for protruding (a lip for example, in a pout) so perhaps that one is just local slang, but I love that the action of fossicking, rummaging or pooching has acquired so many verbs, considering its laid-back nature.
Until next time, happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,