Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To beat or whip.
  • To discomfit; perplex.
  • To be perplexed.
  • noun A dirty, sluttish, idle fellow.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb obsolete To beat or whip; to drive.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To decorate or improve in appearance through artificial means.
  • verb To increase the liveliness of a horse by inserting an irritant, such as a piece of peeled raw ginger or a live eel, in its fundament.
  • verb obsolete To beat or whip; to drive.

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Dutch vegen ("to sweep, strike"), from Middle Dutch vēghen ("to cleanse"), from Old Dutch *fegōn ("to cleanse"), from Proto-Germanic *faginōnan (“to decorate, make beautiful”), from Proto-Indo-European *pōḱ-, *pēḱ- (“to clean, adorn”). Cognate with German fegen ("to cleanse, scour, sweep"), Danish feje ("to sweep"), Swedish feja ("to sweep"), Icelandic fægja ("to polish"). More at fay, fair.

Examples

Comments

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  • to put ginger up a horse's rear end, to make him lively and carry his tail well

    November 4, 2007

  • Sensing that this just couldn't be real and must be one of sionnach's strange jokes, I looked it up. It seems that putting ginger up a horse's rear end (a fun new meaning for end user!) supplanted the previous practice of putting a live eel in the same location.

    I don't know if I'd rather be the horse or the eel in that situation.

    November 4, 2007

  • Given a choice, I'd run in the opposite direction, screaming.

    November 4, 2007

  • It ought to be pronounced feg-way.

    November 4, 2007

  • I hate to think about the poor fellow who had to put that eel into the horse's patootie...

    November 4, 2007

  • How would one put ginger up a horse's rectum?

    wait for it ......

    Somewhat gingerly, I would imagine. (Collapses in helpless laughter at own dimwitticism)

    November 4, 2007

  • Blahahahahah!!! Good one!

    I actually didn't see that one coming. Har!

    November 5, 2007

  • See feak for an interesting potential etymological connection.

    November 5, 2007

  • Why does GoogleAds have a picture ad for "Spanish for the Health Professional" on this page?

    April 21, 2008

  • Etymology and succession of senses unclear. Probably related to 'fake' and (some senses of) obsolete 'feak'. The ultimate origin may be German fegen "sweep, clean up", which has slang senses like "plunder; fix, tamper with", as did English 'fake'.

    The source for the ginger-inserting sense is Grose's 1785 Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. It looks to me like it's an instance of "fix" (make the horse appear livelier than it actually is).

    The word is in use long before this in senses more like "do for, fix the little red wagon of". The variant 'fake' is first known from Vaux's 1812 dictionary of flash language; from these, the modern sense of "forge, counterfeit" arose.

    July 29, 2008