Free the Word: to geg in
As part of the Free the Word series, OED associate editor Eleanor Maier explores Merseyside’s chosen phrase, which will be the subject of a poem by Chris McCabe.
to geg in v. to butt in.
A rich seam of distinctive local vocabulary can be found in Merseyside, from words such as ‘antwacky’ (old-fashioned), ‘jarg’ (fake), and ‘slummy’ (loose change) to the expressions ‘soft lad’, ‘go ‘ed’, and ‘away for slates’ (an Irish phrase meaning ‘on the way to success’).
‘Geg in’ is a relatively recent addition to the region’s vocabulary, first appearing regularly in written sources in the 1990s. The earliest example we have found so far is from Kevin Sampson’s 1998 debut novel Awaydays: “I’ve gegged in on that whole Market Street office party scene.” However, it was doubtless in common use for some time before that and Liverpudlian readers may remember it from their own school days.
A person is said to be ‘gegging in’ when they try to involve themselves in a conversation or activity without having been invited. Someone trying too eagerly to join in where they are unwelcome might be told to ‘Stop gegging in!’ Whilst one can imagine the word being used frequently in the school playground, for example, it is also particularly useful in the context of social media where conversations on Twitter or Facebook are often public and anyone can participate or, if that participation is unwelcome or too forward, ‘geg in’.
So, peering at Twitter, we can see ‘*gegs in*’ or ‘sorry to geg in’ being used by tweeters to acknowledge that they haven’t previously been part of a particular conversation. Conversely a ‘gegger’ might be told, in an extension of the original phrase, to ‘geg out’.
Hi sorry to geg in. But Carol is right Gareth. You really must see Grease.
— Lee Walmsley (@deltaleew) August 13, 2017