cadged; cadging; cadges

transitive verb

: to obtain (something) for free often by persuading or imposing on another : sponge
… he got mixed up with this dreadful girl who cadged chewing gum from the American soldiers and sneered at him.Eva Ibbotson
Teens are spending huge amounts of money themselves, some of it cadged from their families and the rest from after-school jobs.Peg Tyre et al.
… Coleman, as the 15-year-old sports editor of his high school newspaper in Corpus Christi, Texas, once cadged an interview out of Jack Dempsey.Jack McCallum
also : to take, use, or borrow (something) without acknowledgment
Later, when she orders the Athenian senators to step down or die, their unlikely answer—"We no longer are defensible"—is cadged from "Henry V." Jesse Green
cadger noun

Did you know?

As long ago as the 1400s, peddlers traveled the British countryside, each with a packhorse or a horse and cart—first carrying produce from rural farms to town markets, then returning with small wares to sell to country folk. The Middle English name for such traders was cadgear; Scottish dialects rendered the term as cadger. Etymologists are pretty sure the verb cadge was created as a back-formation of cadger (which is to say, it was formed by removal of the "-er" suffix). At its most general, cadger meant "carrier," and the verb cadge meant "to carry." More specifically, the verb meant to go about as a cadger or peddler. By the 1800s, it was used when someone who posed as a peddler turned out to be more of a beggar, from which arose our present-day use.

Examples of cadge in a Sentence

She cadged money from her sister.
Recent Examples on the Web Ansa works in a Helsinki supermarket, collecting expired food and cadging the odd casserole for her dinner. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 4 Dec. 2023 Recent headlines about a black bear found in Disney World and a video of another cadging lunch in front of a cowering mother and child have raised fears of attacks. Lorraine Berry, Los Angeles Times, 3 Oct. 2023 Staying would have meant having to cadge lodging from friends. John Kelly, Washington Post, 11 Sep. 2023 One weekend, a colleague cadged a Chrysler minivan. Brett Berk, Car and Driver, 1 May 2023 Sakuzo wanders — begging for change, cadging meals, working to conquer his homesickness and self-hatred — are every bit as Angeleno as Chandler’s and West’s. Boris Kachka, Los Angeles Times, 11 Apr. 2023 At a more than two-hour sentencing hearing before Chief U.S. District Judge John J. McConnell Jr. in Providence Tuesday, prosecutors and victims described the litany of Cavanaugh’s schemes, from bilking charities out of hundreds of thousands of dollars to cadging beers at a local bar. Brian Amaral,, 14 Mar. 2023 These signals were identified decades ago, but scientists originally interpreted them as a begging call, intended to cadge some food of another worker. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 11 Feb. 2010 With the force of his personality, Gary hustles his way into the water-bed business and then barges into a local radio station to cadge some free advertising from a hip d.j. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 1 Dec. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cadge.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


back-formation from Scots cadger carrier, huckster, from Middle English cadgear

First Known Use

circa 1790, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cadge was circa 1790


Dictionary Entries Near cadge

Cite this Entry

“Cadge.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

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