One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1informal in singular A tiring or unwelcome task.‘it's too much of a fag to drive all the way there and back again’
chore, slog, grind, drudgery, exertion, trouble, bother, pain, hardship, boreView synonyms
- ‘So instead of a relaxing end to a busy social week, diving has become a fag and a beastly chore.’
2A junior pupil at a public school who does minor chores for a senior pupil.‘a fag at school who has suffered a well-earned beating’
- ‘Unlike most of the top pros who, when the camera's are pointed elsewhere, treat their caddies as if they were public school fags, Garcia is genuinely close to his bagman, South African Glenn Murray.’
- ‘He looks like he should be a fag at a public school with those impish, worried looks.’
1Work hard, especially at a tedious task.‘he didn't have to fag away in a lab to get the right answer’
work hard, labour, work one's fingers to the bone, work like a trojan, work like a dog, work day and night, exert oneself, keep at it, keep one's nose to the grindstone, grind away, slave away, grub away, plough away, plod awayView synonyms
- ‘I couldn't be fagged doing it tonight, as I am recovering from the horror of dragging two toddlers around the Royal Melbourne Show all day.’
- ‘Hardly ideal circumstances for a history-making start, but after a few innings things fag into place for the hard throwing right-hander.’
- 1.1 (of a public-school pupil) do minor chores for a senior pupil.‘the lower boys in each house fagged for members of the Library’
- ‘One of my fagging duties was to make a prefect's bed, but others had to clean shoes and the brass buttons on the cadet uniforms.’
- ‘Kerr is a strange fish; I once fagged for a chap like him at Fettes.’
- ‘In fact, according to a recent biography of Jackson, Churchill actually fagged for two England captains, having earlier served Archie MacLaren as well.’
- ‘Most prominent English Public (again, read: PRIVATE) schools, like Eton have pro-actively outlawed the practice of fagging as they've seen what it inevitably leads to; senior boys queuing up to gang rape the junior ones.’
- ‘Letwin had his rebellious moments, campaigning against fagging, the custom of older pupils using younger ones as servants, yet his underlying politics remained conventional.’
- ‘It may be a classic but it's a naff classic, surely: Harry Potter may have given boarding school life a shot in the arm but tales of fagging and prep-time high jinks are hardly the stuff of progressive drama.’
Mid 16th century (as a verb in the sense ‘grow weary’): of unknown origin. Compare with flag.
A male homosexual.
1920s: short for faggot (sense 1 of the noun).
A cigarette.‘she's got a fag in her mouth, and she's squinting her eyes against the smoke’
- ‘The soundtrack to Rachel Lowe's video piece is more restrained - on two screens side by side we watch a woman smoke fags and drink coffee, and hear the fuzzy hubbub of the nowheresville shopping mall she's in.’
- ‘Caleb's rasping chords sound like he's just smoked 50 fags but he remains tuneful and purveys strong emotion whether exhilaration, tenderness or pain.’
- ‘You're the one who puts the fag in your mouth, you make the choice to smoke.’
- ‘And then there was the time we went round the school with a note from Jenkins saying we were doing a study into the effects of cigarette smoke, and could we have some of your fags please sir/miss?’
- ‘Midnight came and went and suddenly it was 3.00 am, I'd drunk a shedload of Guinness, smoked a fair few fags and was starting to feel dopey.’
- ‘She won't let Alvin smoke his spliffs and fags inside any more.’
- ‘All I know is I've not touched a drop, not smoked a fag, I've eaten bags and bags of fruit and played a couple of games of football.’
- ‘‘A fag is a cig,’ he rolled his eyes at her stupidity.’
Late 19th century: elliptically from fag end.
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