‘Fogey’ and ‘geezer’ among questionable nicknames for old men.
By Chrysti the Wordsmith of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle
The male elders among us must frequently endure disparaging nicknames. “Fogey” is a slightly condescending slang term for one who holds fast to antiquated notions. Fogies are often elderly, but not necessarily so. Even a young man can be a “fogey” if his ideas are outdated enough.
The origin of this term is unclear. It may be a variant of an older sense of the word “foggy,” a Scots term meaning “moss-covered,” and by extension, old and inert, just like a fogey.
On the other hand, the term may have had a specialized military meaning. In 18th and 19th century England, “fogey” or “old fogey” were nicknames for an invalid or elderly soldier. “Fogey pay,” a term current during the 19th and 20th centuries, was longevity pay, or a pay increase awarded to a soldier after a given number of years of service.
How about the wry moniker “geezer?” The Oxford English Dictionary says this word is a dialectal pronunciation of the word “guiser,” one who masquerades or goes about in disguise. Such a character is whimsically attired and peculiar in personality, a common observation made about elderly eccentric men.
Other questionable nicknames for older or hidebound males are “duffer,” “codger” and “fuddy-duddy.” The stories behind these terms are on the pages of any good dictionary.
Chrysti M. Smith is a Belgrade writer. The audio version of Chrysti the Wordsmith is produced at KGLT-FM at Montana State University. She can be reached through her website, www.wordsmithradio.org
For the GeezerGuff opinion, read What’s a Geezer?