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This week's theme is not what you might have thought from the title!

So many f-words are funny just to hear. You can laugh at the sound of filibuster, and fi-fi-fo-fum, and the cartoon name Elmer Fudd. And many f-words have a 'light' meaning. You can be a frivolous fool or a fuddy-duddy. You can be a figdety fuss-budget or, quite the converse, a fickle flighty fanciful floozy. You can fiddle around, fribble away your time or fritter away your money on frippery. You can flim-flam and finagle.

This week we'll take a lingering look at light, laughing f-words.

flibbertigibbet – a frivolous and restless person, silly and flighty, scatterbrained or constantly talking
    How do you solve a problem like Maria?
    How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
    How do you find the word that means Maria?
    A flibbertigibbet;
    A will-o'-the-wisp;
    A clown.
    Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her.
    Many a thing she ought to understand.
    But how do you make her stay and listen to all you say?
    How do you keep a wave upon the sand?
    How do you solve a problem like Maria?
    How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?
    The Sound of Music
Shakespeare used the word differently, to mean a demon (King Lear: "This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet"), but that usage remains distinctly secondary.

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foofarawfrills and flashy finery. also, to-do over a trifle; a fuss
    … she did feel somewhat out of place amongst the other women who'd decked themselves out in vivid color and foofaraw. Even Shelly, who usually dressed strictly for comfort, had squeezed herself into satin and sequins like she was a prom queen.
    – Rachel Gibson, True Confessions

    … turned down the offer to become dean of the College of Education because she didn't want the hassle, especially the foofaraw of being the first woman dean.
    – Garrison Keillor, Homegrown Democrat: A Few Plain Thoughts From the Heart of America

    [Discussing URLs] They're long, they're confusing, they're messy, and they're almost impossible to type correctly the first time. Not to worry, though. I've gone mano-a-mano with this URL foofaraw, and I've come up with a plan that's designed to ..."
    – Paul McFedries, Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating a Web Page & Blog
Bonus word (from our last theme):
mano-a-mano – (noun, adj., adv.) face to face confrontation; direct competition
[Spanish "hand to hand"]
 
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fustilugs(obsolete dialect) a gross, fat, unwieldy person, esp. a woman

What a wonderful sound! This is not a well-known word, to say the least, but that makes it particularly valuable for use as an insult: your victim will never know he/she's been dissed. In fact, the word is almost never seen in print. Shakespeare coined an interesting variant, though.
    a vast virago, or an ugly tit, a slug, a fat fustilugs, a trusse, a long lean rawbone, a skeleton
    – John Keats, letter to George Keats, Sept. 1819

    Away, you scullion! you rampallian; you fustilarian! I'll tickle your catastrophe.
    – II Henry IV, Act II scene 1
As long as we're on antique insults:
Bonus words:
scullion
– a household servant of the lowest rank; hence, a person of the lowest order
rampallian – a ruffian, villain, scoundrel
 
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A personal favorite -- fandango. As in "a recipe so good it'll make you dance the fandago."

Of uncertain etymology, perhaps related to "fado," the mournful Portuguese musical form.

Reminiscent of the flamenco, but fandango seems more carefree, laughing in the face of death...


RJA
 
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What is it about those "F" words?
 
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What is it about those "F" words?

Comes under the heading phonaesthesia or sound symbolism.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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farrago – a confused mixture, a hodgepodge [but see below]
[Latin farrago mix of grains for animal feed, from far grain]
    Pyles calls his [Webster's] Dissertations on the English Language "a fascinating farrago of the soundest linguistic common sense and the most egregious poppycock."
    – Bill Bryson, The Mother Tongue

    Our genome is a veritable farrago of non-functional DNA, including many inactive `pseudogenes' that were functional in our ancestors.
    – Jerry A. Coyne, in Intelligent Thought (John Brockman, ed.), as quoted in newspaper

Yes, but there's another sense. It's not in any dictionary, but Quinion notes "that people are sometimes using farrago to mean a lot of noise and argument about nothing very much." OED has in its files, says Quinion, "an example from as long ago as 1989."

Well, we take it back to a 1957 Ogden Nash poem. Nash introduces the subject by quoting a news account: "A new prawn has been dredged up near Santiago, Chile … it is succulent and mysterious. … The new prawn has not been named, a fact that is causing no concern in Chile." Nash's poem follows, ending thus:
    Hadst thou in Yankee seas appeared,
    Account executives would have cheered …
    Yea, shouldst thou hit our markets now,
    Soon, prawn, wouldst thou be named – and how!
    I see the bright ideas drawn:
    Prawno, Prawnex, and Vitaprawn;
    And, should upper-bracket dreamers wake,
    Squab o'Neptune, and Plankton Steak.
    Small wonder thou headest for Santiago,
    Where gourmets ignore such frantic farrago;
    That's exactly where I myself would have went if I'd
    Been mysterious, succulent, unidentified.
 
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I hope you'll let Quinion know. And this time I won't comment on his picture, like I did last time. Wink
 
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I see that he hasn't got around to a new picture in the two years since then, despite his resolve to get one done. He is obviously a man with his mind on higher things! Cool


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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furbelow1. a ruffle or flounce on a garment 2. usually plural: a piece of showy ornamentation
    Well, I don't know that fifty is much for a dress, with all the furbelows and notions you have to have to finish it off these days.
    – Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

    … after the Reformation, Protestant churches were stripped of furbelows, pared down to Calvinist purity.
    – Carol Strickland, The Annotated Arch: A Crash Course in the History Of Architecture
 
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quote:
... A Crash Course in the History Of Architecture
A slightly unfortunate choice of title, given the subject matter.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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flocculent – fluffly, like tufts of wool

We give literal and figurative example-quotes. The noun form is floccule, a word upon which you can exercise your punning creativity.
    You imagine yourself gliding down through the flocculent clouds into a blue ocean full of your fondest memories of childhood.
    – Erica Jong, Fear of Flying

    MacDonald's 'noble, if somewhat flocculent eloquence' must be replaced by greater precision.
    – Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life (interior quote is from Churchill)
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Arvanitis:
A personal favorite -- fandango.
There once was a pirate named Bates,
Who danced the fandango on skates.
But a slip of his cutless
Rendered him nutless
And practically useless on dates.

(not original)
 
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We deal with two forms of nonsense today.

flubdub – pretentious nonsese; bunkum; bombast
flapdoodle – foolish talk; nonsense
    I had summoned all my resources to phrase this flubdub eloquently and correctly
    – Henry Miller, Quiet Days in Clichy

    … any splotching of colors and any flubdub in written composition can pass as creative self-expression.
    – Boyd H. Bode, Progressive Education at the Crossroads

    Barbaro's injury has inspired more drivel and flapdoodle than any single event since the calamitous and great fall of Humpty Dumpty from his seat atop the wall.
    – Fort Worth Star Telegram, June 2, 2006
 
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