My attention was just called to the word “spudger,” which Wikipedia defines as “a wiring tool used for poking or adjusting small wires or components, generally in the electronics and telecommunications industries.” Since it’s not in any of my dictionaries, not even the OED, I assumed it must be a brand-new word, but then I checked Google Books and found it in the Records and Briefs of the United States Supreme Court: John J. Manning and Caleb J. Norwood, appellants, vs. The Cape Ann Isinglass and Glue Company, Charles W. Parker, and James B. Rowe, filed Sept. 1, 1880, p. 15 (reproducing a deposition from 1877):
Int. 8. In the manufacture of isinglass prior to the time when scrapers were introduced, permanently adjusted to the rolls, how was it customary to prevent the isinglass being burnt by accumulation upon the surface of the rolls and passing through between the rolls several times?
Ans. They used a stick, made round at one end, for a handle to hold on to, and sharp at the other end, like a wedge, with a piece of steel or iron put on to it so to make it hard and not batter up when coming in contact with the rolls; with that they would dig the accumulated matter from the rolls. The above stick was known or called by isinglass manufacturers a “spudger.”
Could it be related to the antiquated slang phrase spudge around ‘exert oneself’? Here’s a quote from the unsigned “My Mother’s Slang” in the August 1920 issue of Scribner’s, p. 246: “The next phrase to be added to my collection … was the phrase ‘spudge around’ … Again I could hardly believe my eyes when the dictionary passed obliviously from spud (not a potato at all but a spear) to spue. ‘Spudge’ was one of my mother’s favorite and most forceful words, frequently used in the hope of accelerating our dressing in the morning.” Note that the author had the same fruitless recourse to the dictionary that I did; both slang and obscure technical terms are excellent examples of the kind of item lexicographers are likely to overlook, showing the absurdity of considering even very large dictionaries as exhausting the lexical resources of a language.