- For Teachers
The English word 'jigger' has many various meanings. It can mean:
1. One who jigs. (probably a backformation for the verb meaning 'to dance')
2. A British variation of 'chigoe'. (first attested 1850s)
3. A foremast. (etym. unknown?)
4. To fiddle with. (backformation?)
My question is this: there is an '-ed' adjective form of 'jigger' meaning 'drunk' or 'wasted'. I read "I'll be jiggered" in Great Expectations. No clear definition is given of it in the novel, but 'jiggered' in this sense does not appear in the English dictionaries (that I have looked at) until well after Charles Dickens' book was published and popular. Dickens surely invented other words and coined several neologisms, and it is possible that this is one.
Does anyone know definitively if this is one of them?
Did anyone say 'I'll be jiggered' before Great Expectations?
Why and when did a 'foremast' become a 'jiggermast'?
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.