For some reason I was recently alerted to a new word for my vocabulary. Ordinarily this is an opportunity to be relished, and customarily this initiates an intesne but short-lived campaign for me to try to work my newfound linguistic extension into the earliest possible conversational window it will fit into. Unfortunately options for this word are more restricted than some others. The word in question (and please don’t ask who I was talking to or how this came up, because I genuinely don’t remember) is “feague“. Wikipedia cites a dictionary entry from the early 19th century to provide meaning for the term:
To feague a horse is to put ginger up a horse’s fundament, and formerly, as it is said, a live eel, to make him lively and carry his tail well. It is said, a forfeit is incurred by any horse-dealer’s servant, who shall show a horse without first feaguing him.
Thankfully the practice is now frowned upon in equestrian circles, as it’s not difficult to imagine that “lively” is possibly an understatement of the description of the reaction of jamming a hunk of ginger into a horse’s ringpiece. Apparently the practice is performed by humans in some fairly “specialist” circles, albeit with what I understand to be a smaller piece of ginger.
But it’s not the seasoning of one’s freckle, nor that of one’s horse, that inspired this post. It was in fact the 18th century term – fundament. The common meaning is as described above: the arse.
This is interesting when considered in terms of the label “fundamentalist” – now obviously a portmanteau of the words “mentalist”, and “fundament”. Or to put it another way: someone who is both insane, and an arsehole.