Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Moggy Catcher

This morning, while doing some important Winehouse research, I encountered the word "moggy" for the first time ever. As The Sun colorfully informed its readers, Amy "has now got 11 moggies running riot around her north London home "

11 moggies! That's way too many...moggies. Wait: what's a moggy?

Well, apparently, they're cats. It turns out that Amy, in addition to her other problems, is a cat collector. But really, if she can just avoid re-marrying Blake and stay off drugs, who really cares how many cats she has? It's the least of her problems.

Here is a good explanation of the word "moggy" from a British website:

"The definition of a moggy is a cat or kitten that does not belong to any recognised breed...The word was originally a pet name for a cow! The origin of the word moggy is not a corruption of the word 'mongrel', as many believe. It was first recorded in 1911, and was possibly derived from maggie, margie or mog, all short forms of the female name Margaret. It is thought this was first used to describe an ungainly lumbering old cow, and it may even have been a minor rural English name for any cow; since 'moggy' was used in several 1800s English dialects as an 'affectionate name' for a cow.

"As rural people flocked to the cities during the latter part of the Industrial Revolution, it seems likely that the cow moggy became maggie, applied as a term of abuse for a dishevelled old woman or older prostitute.The origin is obviously confused, but as the early 20th century streets of London became filled with very many unhealthy looking stray cats, it would have been natural to apply the term moggy to describe these unfortunate creatures.

"In parts of Lancashire, England the word 'moggy' means mouse, not cat. A cat was known as 'the moggy catcher'. It has been suggested that this could be the etymology of the word moggy meaning 'cat' - over time the catcher part was dropped from 'the moggy catcher' and so moggy now means both 'mouse' and 'cat'. In New Zealand the term 'moggy' is popularly assumed to be a reference to the letter M formed on the forehead of tabby cats by their striped markings. However it was most likely introduced by English immigrants."


  1. It almost seems like you can call ANYTHING a moggy there!

  2. hee hee, yeah, that's true! Cow, mouse, cat, prostitute...

  3. Do the Brits need to make up nicknames for EVERYTHING?

  4. Apparently, yes!

    Are you wearied by their relentlessly colorful, idiosyncratic speech patterns? :P

  5. I guess so! Sometimes they just seem so unnecessary.