The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue was first published at the end of the eighteenth century, and given that the current health crisis is giving too much time to read books, I thought I’d pick a daily word from it until I got bored….
Not the most elegant of things to think about, the dictionary defines this as “to feague a horse; to put ginger up a horse’s fundament, and formerly, as it is said, a live eel, to make him lively and carry his tail well; it is said, a forfeit is incurred by any horse-dealer’s servant, who shall shew a horse without first feaguing him. Feague is used, figuratively, for encouraging or spirting one up”.
I’m not entirely sure of the practicalities about achieving this aim with a live eel, but the ginger solution remains a problem today for those buying horses. Today, the phrase is better known as gingering, as this is now the most common usage, and is of course seen as an animal rights abuse.