Word Confusion: Cadge versus Cage

Posted March 31, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I actually ran across cadge being used properly and was caught by its possible relationship to cage. No, the pronunciation isn’t alike: cadge sounds like badge — which means I’ve been pronouncing it wrong all these years — but the scary part was typing cadge into image search turned up all these pictures of birds and cages. Definitely an oh, no moment.

I suppose, on some distant planet, you could draw a parallel between a man cadging for money as his (or her) seeking to be free from whatever cage he’s trapped in. To purchase what they like…unfortunately, we’re on this planet, and we’ll just have to suck it up.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Cadge Cage
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Your Writer Platform; Dictionary.com: cadge

Image courtesy of
Toothpaste for Dinner

Image courtesy of Creative Nuisance

Part of Grammar:
Noun 1; Verb 2, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: cadges
Past tense or past participle: cadges
Gerund or present participle: cadging

Noun; Verb, transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: cages
Past tense or past participle: caged
Gerund or present participle: caging

[Falconry] A frame on which hawks are carried to the field 1

Verb, intransitive:
To ask, expect, or encourage another person to pay for or provide one’s drinks, meals, etc. 2

[British] A person who cadges

[British; informal] On the cadge

  • Engaged in cadging

Verb, transitive:
To obtain by imposing on another’s generosity or friendship 2

To borrow without intent to repay

To beg or obtain by begging

[Slang] To sponge [off someone]

A structure of bars or wires in which birds or other animals are confined

  • Prison cell or camp
  • Open framework forming the compartment in an elevator
  • Structure of crossing bars or wires designed to hold or support something
  • [Baseball] A portable backstop situated behind the batter during batting practice
  • [In hockey and other games] A goal made from a network frame
  • [Mining] An enclosed platform for raising and lowering people and cars in a mine shaft
  • An indoor athletic facility with areas fenced off for security

[As modifier] Cagebird

A thing or place that confines or imprisons

Something resembling a cage in function or structure

Usually be caged

Confine in or as in a cage

  • [Informal] Put in prison

[Sports] To shoot (as a puck) into a cage so as to score a goal

He’s on the cadge, that one.

Verb, intransitive:
Ya gotta watch Henry. He’s always cadging off his friends.

Polly is cadging again.

Verb, transitive:
Can I cadge a free cup of coffee?

He cadged a ride into town.

Mary cadges drinks at the bar.

He was cadging money on the street.

Lydia cadged a dollar for the parking meter.

He was hoping to cadge the bus fare

Polly cadged a meal from a friend.

animals in cages

his cage of loneliness

She kept a canary in a cage.

Oh, man, his rib cage is torn wide open.

He’s a sneaky old cagebird.

Many animals are caged.

He got the lion caged, and we all breathed easier.

The parrot screamed, furious at being caged.

[As an Adjective] a caged bird

Noun: cadger Adjective: cageless, cagelike
Verb, transitive: recage, recaged, recaging
History of the Word:
1 1605-15 in an apparent variant of cage.

2 1275-1325; perhaps to be identified with Middle English caggen meaning to tie, which is of uncertain origin.

Back-formation from the Scots cadger meaning carrier, huckster from the Middle English cadgear

Middle English via Old French from the Latin cavea.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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