fos·​sick ˈfä-sik How to pronounce fossick (audio)
fossicked; fossicking; fossicks

intransitive verb

Australia and New Zealand : to search for gold or gemstones typically by picking over abandoned workings
chiefly Australia and New Zealand : to search about : rummage

transitive verb

chiefly Australia and New Zealand : to search for by or as if by rummaging : ferret out
fossicker noun chiefly Australia and New Zealand

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Search for the Origin of Fossick

The first people to fossick (in the oldest and still-current meaning of the word), back in the 1850s, were picking over abandoned mining excavations in Australia and New Zealand in search of gold or gemstones. But within a few decades fossick was being used more generally to mean "to search about" or "to rummage." Fossick, as we know it, is a native of Down Under, but it may have its origins in a word known to immigrants from the United Kingdom: the dialect term fussock, meaning "to bustle about" or "to fidget."

Word History


English dialect fossick to ferret out

First Known Use

1852, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fossick was in 1852


Dictionary Entries Near fossick

Cite this Entry

“Fossick.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

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