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English dialect fossick, fossuck, a troublesome person, fussick, to potter over one's work, fussock, to bustle about; of uncertain origin. Compare fuss.


fossick (third-person singular simple present fossicks, present participle fossicking, simple past and past participle fossicked)

  1. (Britain) To ferret out; to elicit information.
  2. (Britain, Australia) To search for gold, gems, etc., on the surface or in abandoned workings.
    • 1902, State experiments in Australia and New Zealand, Volume 2,
      In New South Wales the bureau has been able to dispose of a large contingent of the workless by sending them to fossick for gold on old or deserted goldfields.
    • 1994, Ron Moon, Outback Australia: a Lonely Planet Australia guide:
      The best way to fossick on old dumps is to either sieve material from untouched areas or drag down the sides with a rake. You can also find gemstones by closely examining the surface without necessarily disturbing it.
    • 2003, Susannah Farfor, David Andrew, Hugh Finlay, Northern Territory,
      In order to fossick you must first obtain a fossicking permit; see relevant sections for price. Permission to fossick on freehold land and mineral leases must be obtained from the owner or leaseholder.
  3. (Britain, Australia) To search for something; to rummage.
    • 1924, John Buchan, The Three Hostages,
      I dined alone and sat after dinner in the smoking-room, for Odell never suggested the library, though I would have given a lot to fossick about that place.
    • 1980, Barbara Pepworth, Early Marks:
      I could have built a better fire myself but I was too cold when we arrived to fossick around for twigs. I went back to the warm car and let Neil and Henry fossick. Playing the dumb broad is profitable too.
    • 2010, Marlish Glorie, The Bookshop on Jacaranda Street:
      He began to fossick again, shifting the bars of soap around until he became aware of something moving behind him.
  4. (intransitive) To be troublesome.

Derived terms[edit]