[Ads-l] OED "fogger, n1" -- pettyfoggers (cont.)

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Thu Sep 22 15:11:55 EDT 2016

The OED entry on "FOGGER, n1" links closely to PETTYFOGGER, beginning with the
same 1564 citation: " W. Bullein Dial. against Fever Pestilence f. 12v, I knowe
them verie well, thei are two pettifoggers in the lawe."

The entry begins:

fogger, n.1
Origin: Probably from proper names. Etymons: proper name Fogger, Fugger.
Etymology: Probably < Fogger, former spelling in English texts (see note) of
Fugger, the surname of a family of wealthy mercantile bankers and venture
capitalists from Augsburg, Germany, in the 15th and 16th centuries.

After an exploration of this possibility, a caveat is issued:

"Semantic development in English: The specific application of this word and of
the compound pettifogger n.1 [which is the earliest instance given in the
citations -- RH] to dishonest lawyers appears not to be paralleled in other
European languages; the motivation for its development is unclear."

An etymology running:  

FOGGER <= <petty> FOGGER <= <petty> FIGGER (cant) <= FIG (cant: steal / a thief)
<= ???  

... would bypass the House of Fugger, and resolve this issue.

Robin Hamilton

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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