You get to an age where your eyes, your hair, your memory, are all foggy, and you feel like a fat guy sitting chewing a stogie trying to figure out what you’re forgetting while you grumble about all the guff you have to put up with and how everything was so much better for a guy like you back when things were the way they were…
An old foggy grump. An old fogrum. Fogrum? That’s an old word that’s not used anymore, but seems to be a variant on fogey, or vice versa.
Fogey? Fogy? Ah, which is it, now? Old fogeys or old fogies? Why do they have to make these things so complicated? And why isn’t the g pronounced like “j” since there’s a front vowel after it?
Oh, those were the days. The 1700s, when this word seems to have shown up. The days when not everyone was literate. When things weren’t always spelled the same way all the time. When people said what they said and when they wrote it down they tried to find a way to write it down that seemed sensible enough. Not like these people nowadays who spell words so wrong because they don’t know how to spell them so they just go with how they sound. What?
So anyways, how would you write /fo gi/? With that “hard g” before the “ee” sound? As foguey? Come on, that’s so French. Might as well write faux guy. As foghi? Aside from being Italian, who would get that right? No, in English you could go with fogy or fogey or fogie. As it happens, the first two are used, and the third one isn’t. But it used to be. And in Scots English, there’s foggie. Which might be the origin of the word. But not as in misty; as in a now disused sense meaning ‘fat’.
But the original Scots sense was (per the OED) ‘an invalid or garrison soldier’, and the word fogrum – meaning the same as our common current sense of an old outmoded person – appears to at least slightly pre-date the current sense of fog(e)y. So hmm. But where, exactly, does fogrum (also spelled fogram) come from? No one seems to know. Maybe one old guy did and he forgot.
And, oh, which spelling is better, with or without the e? Well, as Jim Taylor, who suggested this word, found out, Google gives you twice as many hits for fogy… but if you look at the image searches associated with the two spellings, fogey gets you pictures of grumpy old guys, while fogy gets you pictures of foggy landscapes.
As Jim says, “Go figure.”