a : to search about : rummage
b : to search for by or as if by rummaging : ferret out
Did You Know?
The first people to "fossick" (in the oldest but still-current meaning of the word), back in the 1850s, were picking over abandoned mining excavations 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" was brought to the shores of Australia and New Zealand by immigrants from the United Kingdom. The word was originally an English dialect term meaning "to ferret out." That meaning is derived from older words: the first spelled "fussick," meaning "to bustle about," and the second "fossack" or "fussock," meaning "a troublesome person."
As teenagers, the twins spent many summer afternoons fossicking for opals in the old mine.
"Meanwhile that little dog of ours, whose pedigree goes back some 400 years, is out the front fossicking round on the lawn and in the garden, following scents, sniffing at new growth, chasing birds (and flies), barking at cats or watching the world go by from the front doorstep." -- From an article by Garth George in The New Zealand Herald, October 7, 2010
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