phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: Finagle

Posted by DGW on June 29, 2003

In Reply to: Finagle posted by Bruce Kahl on June 29, 2003

: Anyone?
: The best I could find is that it might be from a Newfoundland dialect--"fainaigue" a card playing term as in "You're not allowed to fainaigue the jack of hearts."
: Maybe it is a mispronunciation of something?

"Finagle" is apparently an alteration of an originally English dialectal verb "fainaigue" meaning either "renege [at cards, etc.]" or "shirk [work, etc.]". The origin of "fainaigue" is given as unknown by the big dictionaries. My own speculation is that it might have been originally "feign-ague" = "feign-illness" = "malinger". [It is conceivable that the "feign" might have been "fain" = "willing" here, and/or that the "ague" might have been "ache", to the same effect (shirking one's obligations).]