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.
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