Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To search for gold, especially by reworking washings or waste piles.
  • intransitive v. To rummage or search around, especially for a possible profit.
  • transitive v. To search for by or as if by rummaging.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To ferret out; to elicit information.
  • v. To search for gold, gems, etc., on the surface or in abandonded workings.
  • v. To search for something; to rummage.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To search for gold by picking at stone or earth or among roots in isolated spots, picking over abandoned workings, etc.; hence, to steal gold or auriferous matter from another's claim.
  • intransitive v. To search about; to rummage.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To be troublesome.
  • In gold-digging, to undermine another's digging; search for waste gold in relinquished workings, washing-places, etc.; hence, to search for any object by which to make gain: as, to fossick for clients.
  • n. A troublesome person.

Etymologies

English dialectal, to find out, dig up.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • So I decided to go down and "fossick" among the Blyde River terraces.

    Reminiscences of a South African Pioneer

  • Cobden said that a feature of the applicant's case was to "fossick" around various documents and attempt to "stitch" them together to create a "mindset where iiNet encouraged infringement" on its network.

    iTnews Australia

  • But the pressures of Dressember have encouraged me to go for a bit of a fossick and recover some survivors from beneath the rubble.

    Sew Retro

  • General opinion now seems to be that it entered the language too early for that -- and an English etymology is preferred: fiver: a five pound (sterling) note (or "bill"); fossick: pick out gold, in a fairly desultory fashion.

    The Rising of the Court

  • His anger floats over me as I fossick inside, Wednesday gloves black with grime.

    Filth

  • Here's Ian Forth, who I can't help but notice seems to be emailing from his wife's account, with a Smyth-esque piece of statgazzary: Had a quick fossick through statsguru today.

    Pakistan v England – day two live! | Andy Bull and Rob Smyth

  • It's squirmy, but gives him the perfect opportunity to fossick into the medical-related matters that brought his brother down.

    kaboom!

  • I just fossick around reading whatever interests me.

    Five historical figures

  • This is, admittedly, not Ackroyd's field; he much prefers to fossick around with ecclesiastical architecture and cross-dressing at early-medieval festivals.

    That Blessed Plot, That Enigmatic Isle

  • Anne was forced to fossick through the pages of information for the odd trace of gold, though when she found a gleam, she had to admit that she could not be sure it wasn't mere pyrite instead.

    A Darker Place

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Comments

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  • For a discussion, see World Wide Words: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-fos1.htm

    December 1, 2009

  • Verb. Austral & NZ to find out, dig up, from English dialect fussock to bustle about, move or cause to move energetically and busily. Excited and often noisy activity; a stir.

    January 21, 2009

  • Australian? Common enough in UK, too.

    May 23, 2008

  • Almost exclusively Australian word of Cornish origin. I am told that sook - as in "Grow up, stop crying and don't be such a bloody sook" (or "sooky baby") is also of Cornish origin.

    May 8, 2008