• forage •
for-rij • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Food for ruminants (grazing beasts). 2. The act of searching for food or provisions for any animal or human.
Notes: This noun may be used as a verb meaning "to conduct a search for anything", not just food, as 'to forage through clutter for some object'. The only lexical relative of this word is forager "someone who searches for forage".
In Play: This word usually refers to food for ruminants only: "Spring rains provide forage not only for cattle and sheep, but for wild ruminants as well: deer, elk, moose." However, it may be metaphorically used to refer to any disorganized search: "Kay Largo spends too much time foraging the refrigerator for something sweet to eat."
Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed—as usual—from Old French forage "fodder; foraging, pillaging", based on fuerre "hay, straw" (Modern French feurre). Since [p] became [f] only in Germanic languages, this word must have been borrowed from some Germanic language, like Old High German fuotar "feed, fodder". The Germanic word was derived from Proto-Germanic fodram "fodder", source also of English fodder and German Futter "fodder, feed". These words go back to PIE pa-tro- a suffixed form of pa- "to feed", also the source of Latin pascere "to lead to grazing, to pasture", underlying the English borrowing pasture. Russian pasti "let graze, pasture" shares the same source. It is also the source of Latin pastor "shepherd", borrowed by English to refer to someone who shepherds a flock of parishioners. (Today's Good Word with the eye-opening history was shared with us in the Alpha Agora by our old friend Tomasz Kowaltowski.)
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