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verb (used with object), fagged, fag·ging.
  1. to tire or weary by labor; exhaust (often followed by out): The long climb fagged us out.
  2. British. to require (a younger public-school pupil) to do menial chores.
  3. Nautical. to fray or unlay the end of (a rope).
verb (used without object), fagged, fag·ging.
  1. Chiefly British. to work until wearied; work hard: to fag away at French.
  2. British Informal. to do menial chores for an older public-school pupil.
  1. Slang. a cigarette.
  2. a fag end, as of cloth.
  3. a rough or defective spot in a woven fabric; blemish; flaw.
  4. Chiefly British. drudgery; toil.
  5. British Informal. a younger pupil in a British public school required to perform certain menial tasks for, and submit to the hazing of, an older pupil.
  6. a drudge.

Origin of fag1

1425–75; late Middle English fagge broken thread in cloth, loose end (of obscure origin); sense development apparently: drooping end > to droop, tire > to make weary > drudgery, drudge (compare relationship of flag1 to flag3); (def 6) a shortening of fag end (a butt, hence a cigarette)
Related formsun·fagged, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for fagging

Historical Examples

  • Fagging, which began after the first fortnight, he found a not unpleasant duty.

    The Hill

    Horace Annesley Vachell

  • Volumes of nonsense have been written about the Fagging System.

    Seeing and Hearing

    George W. E. Russell

  • Fagging was a fully established system at Eton and Winchester in the 16th century, and is probably a good deal older.

  • Fagging was the law; so the upper forms enslaved the lower ones.

British Dictionary definitions for fagging


  1. informal a boring or wearisome taskit's a fag having to walk all that way
  2. British (esp formerly) a young public school boy who performs menial chores for an older boy or prefect
verb fags, fagging or fagged
  1. (when tr, often foll by out) informal to become or cause to become exhausted by hard toil or work
  2. (usually intr) British to do or cause to do menial chores in a public schoolBrown fags for Lee

Word Origin

C18: of obscure origin


  1. British a slang word for cigarette
  2. a fag end, as of cloth

Word Origin

C16 (in the sense: something hanging loose, flap): of obscure origin


  1. slang, mainly US and Canadian short for faggot 2
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for fagging



"to droop, decline, tire," 1520s, apparently an alteration of flag (v.) in its sense of "droop." Transitive sense of "to make (someone or something) fatigued" is first attested 1826. Related: Fagged; fagging.



British slang for "cigarette" (originally, especially, the butt of a smoked cigarette), 1888, probably from fag-end "extreme end, loose piece" (1610s), from fag "loose piece" (late 15c.), which is perhaps related to fag (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper