Perhaps you have a lodger, a pudgy old codger named Roger, grey as a badger, who likes to adjure you to judge his tadger larger than any other gadge’s, and he keeps at you, a real noodge… Not only does he badger, it’s like he has a badge on his forehead: a great big L for “loser.” Do these words, this verb badger and this noun badge, have to do with the critter called badger? You betcher! Badger, badger, badger… it mushrooms! It seems that the animal’s forehead fur looked like a badge, or anyway that’s the best stab etymologists can make at it (but they’re also still burrowing for a source for badge). Is the badger ill-tempered and persistent, constantly bad and generally saying grr, known perhaps to have barged into tea and grabbed a scone unbidden? Well, it was long axiomatic that a badger, once it bit, would not release till its teeth had met. But it’s at least as likely that it was the badger that was being badgered… by people. They weren’t treated, ah, very nicely. But anyway, to the word form before us: note the two ascenders on b and d, rising up like the stripes on a badger from the eyes. It takes more imagination to see the a as a pointy snout and the ger as somehow the rest of the creature. The sound could work: the opening [bæ] is an incipient baring of the teeth, a release of bitterness, and then there’s the tongue-bite of the voiced affricate followed by the growling [r]. But of course there’s not such an impinging tone in, say, budgerigar. Unless the little blighter won’t shut up.

One response to “badger

  1. BTW, for those by whom the mushroom reference passed unnoticed:

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