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Keep cavey

Posted by David FG on July 11, 2005

In Reply to: Keep cavey posted by Victoria S Dennis on July 11, 2005

: : does anyone know the origin of the phrase "keep cavey" (i.e. keep a lookout for someone)?

: It's properly spelt "cave", which is Latin for "Beware!" It is British public-schoolboy slang (n.b. that in Britain "public schools" are actually expensive private schools). While the class did something illicit, one boy would watch and would hiss "Cave" to his classmates when he spotted a "beak" (teacher) coming. I don't know if it is used any more, now that Latin is almost extinct in public schools.

I rather suspect that if it were ever used at all it was a long time ago. I was sent to a public school, and despite spending many hours being subjected to the best efforts of Latin masters, none of us ever used 'cave'. I think it, along with 'cripes, yaroo, spiffing and the other alleged vocabulary of English public schools, never actually existed outside the imaginations of writers of fiction that was woefully out of date even when written.


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