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    fa (n.) — faintly (adv.)

    fa (n.)

    fourth note in Guidonian scale; see gamut. Used from 13c. in Old French. It represents the first syllable in Latin famulus.ETD fa (n.).2

    fab (adj.)

    1957, slang shortening of fabulous.ETD fab (adj.).2

    Faberge (adj.)

    1902 from Peter Carl Fabergé (1846-1920), Russian jeweler.ETD Faberge (adj.).2

    Fabian (n.)

    "socialist," 1884, from Fabian Society, founded in Britain 1884, named for Quintus Fabius Maximus (surnamed Cunctator "the Delayer"), the cautious tactician who opposed Hannibal in the Second Punic War. The Fabians chose the name to draw a distinction between their slow-going tactics and those of anarchists and communists. The Latin gens name possibly is from faba "a bean" (see bean (n.)).ETD Fabian (n.).2

    fabled (adj.)

    c. 1600, "unreal, invented," past-participle adjective from fable (v.) "to tell tales" (late 14c.), from Old French fabler "tell, narrate; chatter, boast," from Latin fabulari, from fabula (see fable). Meaning "celebrated in fable" is from 1706.ETD fabled (adj.).2

    fable (n.)

    c. 1300, "falsehood, fictitious narrative; a lie, pretense," from Old French fable "story, fable, tale; drama, play, fiction; lie, falsehood" (12c.), from Latin fabula "story, story with a lesson, tale, narrative, account; the common talk, news," literally "that which is told," from fari "speak, tell," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say."ETD fable (n.).2

    Restricted sense of "animal story" (early 14c.) comes from the popularity of Aesop's tales. In modern folklore terms, defined as "a short, comic tale making a moral point about human nature, usually through animal characters behaving in human ways" ["Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore"].ETD fable (n.).3

    fable-monger (n.)

    also fablemonger, "one who invents or repeats fables," 1670s, from fable (n.) + monger (n.).ETD fable-monger (n.).2

    fabric (n.)

    late 15c. (Caxton), "a building," a sense now obsolete, from Old French fabrique (14c.), verbal noun from fabriquer (13c.), from Latin fabricare "to make, construct, fashion, build," from fabrica "workshop," also "an art, trade; a skillful production, structure, fabric," from faber "artisan who works in hard materials," from Proto-Italic *fafro-, from PIE *dhabh-, perhaps meaning "craftsman" (source also of Armenian darbin "smith," and possibly also Lithuanian dabà "nature, habit, character," dabnùs "smart, well-dressed, elegant;" Russian dobryj "good," Gothic gadob "it fits," Old English gedēfe "fitting;" also see daft).ETD fabric (n.).2

    From 1630s as "a thing made; a structure of any kind." The sense in English has evolved via "manufactured material" (1753) to "textile, woven or felted cloth" (1791). Compare forge (n.) which is a doublet.ETD fabric (n.).3

    fabricate (v.)

    mid-15c., "to fashion, make, build," from Latin fabricatus, past participle of fabricare "to make, construct, fashion, build," from fabrica (see fabric). In bad sense of "tell a lie (etc.)," it is recorded by 1779. Related: Fabricated; fabricating.ETD fabricate (v.).2

    fabrication (n.)

    c. 1500, fabricacioun, "manufacturing, construction," from Latin fabricationem (nominative fabricatio) "a structure, construction, a making," noun of action from past-participle stem of fabricare "to make, construct" (see fabricate). Meaning "lying, falsehood, forgery" is from 1790.ETD fabrication (n.).2

    fabulous (adj.)

    early 15c., "mythical, legendary," from Latin fabulosus "celebrated in fable;" also "rich in myths," from fabula "story, tale" (see fable (n.)). The meaning "pertaining to fable" is from 1550s. The sense of "incredible" is recorded by c. 1600, hence "enormous, immense, amazing," which was trivialized by 1950s to "marvelous, terrific." The slang shortening fab is recorded by 1957; popularized in reference to The Beatles, c. 1963.ETD fabulous (adj.).2

    Related: Fabulously; fabulousness.ETD fabulous (adj.).3

    fabulist (n.)

    1590s, "inventor or writer of fables," from French fabuliste, from Latin fabula "story, tale" (see fable (n.)). The earlier word in English was fabler (late 14c.); the Latin term was fabulator.ETD fabulist (n.).2

    facade (n.)

    1650s, "front of a building," from French façade (16c.), from Italian facciata "the front of a building," from faccia "face," from Vulgar Latin *facia (see face (n.)). Figurative use by 1845.ETD facade (n.).2

    face (n.)

    c. 1300, "the human face, a face; facial appearance or expression; likeness, image," from Old French face "face, countenance, look, appearance" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *facia (source also of Italian faccia), from Latin facies "appearance, form, figure," and secondarily "visage, countenance," which probably is literally "form imposed on something" and related to facere "to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").ETD face (n.).2

    Replaced Old English andwlita "face, countenance" (from root of wlitan "to see, look") and ansyn, ansien, the usual word (from the root of seon "see"). Words for "face" in Indo-European commonly are based on the notion of "appearance, look," and are mostly derivatives from verbs for "to see, look" (as with the Old English words, Greek prosopon, literally "toward-look," Lithuanian veidas, from root *weid- "to see," etc.). But in some cases, as here, the word for "face" means "form, shape." In French, the use of face for "front of the head" was given up 17c. and replaced by visage (older vis), from Latin visus "sight."ETD face (n.).3

    From late 14c. as "outward appearance (as contrasted to some other reality);" also from late 14c. as "forward part or front of anything;" also "surface (of the earth or sea), extent (of a city)." Typographical sense of "part of the type which forms the letter" is from 1680s.ETD face (n.).4

    Face to face is from mid-14c. Face time is attested from 1990. To lose face "lose prestige" (1835), is from Chinese tu lien; hence also save face (1898; see save). To show (one's) face "make or put in an appearance" is from mid-14c. (shewen the face). To make a face "change the appearance of the face in disgust, mockery, etc." is from 1560s. Two faces under one hood as a figure of duplicity is attested from mid-15c.ETD face (n.).5

    facing (n.)

    "defiance," 1520s, verbal noun from face (v.). Meaning "action of turning the face toward" is from 1540s; that of "covering in front of a garment" is from 1560s; that of "a coating" is from 1580s; that of "front or outer part of a wall, building, etc.," is from 1823. Earliest use is as "disfiguring, defacing" (c. 1400).ETD facing (n.).2

    face (v.)

    "confront with assurance; show a bold face," mid-15c., from face (n.). From c. 1400 as "deface, disfigure." Meaning "to cover with something in front" is from 1560s; that of "turn the face toward" is from 1630s; meaning "be on the opposite page to" is from 1766. Intransitive sense "to turn the face" (especially in military tactics) is from 1630s. Related: Faced; facing. To face the music (1850, in U.S. Congressional debates) probably is theatrical rather than a reference to cavalry horses.ETD face (v.).2

    facing (adj.)

    1560s, "audacious," present-participle adjective from face (v.). From 1849 as "that is opposite to."ETD facing (adj.).2

    facebook (n.)

    directory listing names and headshots, by 1983, originally among U.S. college students, from face (n.) + book (n.). The social networking Web site of that name (with capital F-) dates from 2004.ETD facebook (n.).2

    face-card (n.)

    "court card," 1826, from face (n.) + card (n.1). So called for the portaits on them.ETD face-card (n.).2

    faceless (adj.)

    1560s, from face (n.) + -less. Related: Facelessly; facelessness.ETD faceless (adj.).2

    face-lift (n.)

    also facelift, 1934, from face-lifting (1922); see face (n.) + lift (n.).ETD face-lift (n.).2

    face-off (n.)

    also faceoff, 1886 in sports (hockey, etc., originally lacrosse), from verbal phrase in a sports sense, attested from 1867 (see face (v.) + off (adv.)); the off perhaps is based on stand-off or similar constructions.ETD face-off (n.).2

    face-painting (n.)

    1706, "portrait-painting," from face (n.) + painting (n.). In reference to applying color to the face, by 1778. Related: Face-painter; face-paint.ETD face-painting (n.).2

    face-plate (n.)

    "protective cover, shield," 1874, from face (n.) + plate (n.).ETD face-plate (n.).2

    facet (n.)

    1620s, "one side of a multi-sided body," from French facette (12c., Old French facete), diminutive of face "face, appearance" (see face (n.)). The diamond-cutting sense is the original one. Transferred and figurative use by 1820. Related: Faceted; facets.ETD facet (n.).2

    facetious (adj.)

    "sportive, playful," 1590s, from French facétieux (16c.), from facétie "a joke" (15c.), from Latin facetiae "jests, witticisms" (singular facetia), from facetus "witty, elegant, fine, courteous," which is of unknown origin, perhaps related to facis "torch."ETD facetious (adj.).2

    Formerly often in a good sense, "witty, full of fun, amusing," as Century Dictionary (1897) has it, "jocular, without lack of dignity;" but later implying a desire to be amusing that is often intrusive or ill-timed. Related: Facetiously; facetiousness.ETD facetious (adj.).3

    face-value (n.)

    1842, from face (n.) + value (n.). Originally of stock shares, banknotes, etc.ETD face-value (n.).2

    facia (n.)

    variant of fascia.ETD facia (n.).2

    facial (adj.)

    c. 1600, "face to face," from French facial, from Medieval Latin facialis "of the face," from facies (see face (n.)). Meaning "pertaining to the face" in English is from 1786. The noun meaning "beauty treatment for the face" is from 1914, American English. Middle English had faciale (n.) "face-cloth for a corpse" (early 14c.).ETD facial (adj.).2


    word-forming element meaning "a doer, one who or that which does," from Latin -facientem (nominative -faciens), combining form of present participle of facere "to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").ETD -facient.2

    facile (adj.)

    late 15c., "easy to do," from French facile "easy," from Latin facilis "easy to do," of persons, "pliant, courteous, yielding," from facere "to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). Usually now with depreciatory implication. Of persons, "easily led," from 1510s.ETD facile (adj.).2

    facilities (n.)

    "opportunities," 1809, plural of facility. Sense of "physical means of doing something" is from 1872.ETD facilities (n.).2

    facility (n.)

    early 15c., "gentleness, lightness," from Old French facilité "easiness, ease," from Latin facilitatem (nominative facilitas) "easiness, ease, fluency, willingness," from facilis "easy to do," from facere "to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). First in a medical book:ETD facility (n.).2

    Its sense in English expanded to "opportunity" (1510s), to "aptitude, ease, quality of being easily done" (1530s). Meaning "place for doing something" which makes the word so beloved of journalists and fuzzy writers, first recorded 1872, via notion of "physical means by which (something) can be easily done."ETD facility (n.).3

    facile princeps

    Latin, literally "easily first." An acknowledged leader or chief. See facile, prince.ETD facile princeps.2

    facilis descensus Averni

    Latin, literally "the descent of Avernus (is) easy" ["Aeneid," VI.126], in reference to Avernus, a deep lake near Puteoli and a reputed entrance to the underworld; hence, "it is easy to slip into moral ruin."ETD facilis descensus Averni.2

    facilitate (v.)

    1610s, "make easy, render less difficult," from French faciliter "to render easy," from stem of Latin facilis "easy to do," from facere "to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). Related: Facilitated; facilitates; facilitating.ETD facilitate (v.).2

    facilitation (n.)

    1610s, noun of action from facilitate.ETD facilitation (n.).2

    facilitator (n.)

    1806, agent noun in Latin form from facilitate.ETD facilitator (n.).2

    facilitative (adj.)

    1845, from facilitate + -ive.ETD facilitative (adj.).2

    facinorous (adj.)

    "extremely wicked," 1540s, from Latin facinorosus, from stem of facinus "a deed," especially a bad one, from facere "to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). "Very common in 17th c." [OED].ETD facinorous (adj.).2

    facsimile (n.)

    "exact copy," 1690s, two words, from Latin fac simile "make similar," from fac imperative of facere "to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put") + simile, neuter of similis "like, resembling, of the same kind" (see similar). One-word form predominated in 20c. As an adjective from 1877.ETD facsimile (n.).2

    fact (n.)

    1530s, "action, a thing performed, anything done, a deed," good or evil but in 16c.-17c. commonly "evil deed, crime;" from Latin factum "an event, occurrence, deed, achievement," in Medieval Latin also "state, condition, circumstance" (source also of Old French fait, Spanish hecho, Italian fatto), etymologically "a thing done," noun use of neuter of factus, past participle of facere "to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").ETD fact (n.).2

    An earlier adaptation of the Old French word that also became feat. The older senses are mostly obsolete but somewhat preserved in such phrases as after the fact, originally legal, "after the crime." Also compare matter-of-fact.ETD fact (n.).3

    The modern, empirical, sense of "thing known to be true, a real state of things, what has really occurred or is actually the case," as distinguished from statement or belief, is from 1630s, from the notion of "something that has actually occurred." The particular concept of the scientific, empirical fact ("a truth known by observation or authentic testimony") emerged in English 1660s, via Hooke, Boyle, etc., in The Royal Society, as part of the creation of the modern vocabulary of knowledge (along with theory, hypothesis, etc.); in early 18c. it was associated with the philosophical writings of Hume. Middle English thus lacked the noun and the idea of it; the closest expression being perhaps thing proved (c.1500).ETD fact (n.).4

    Hence facts "real state of things;" in fact "in reality" (1707). By 1729, fact was being used of "something presented as a fact but which might be or is false."ETD fact (n.).5

    Facts of life is by 1854 as "the stark realities of existence;" by 1913 it had also acquired a more specific sense of "knowledge of human sexual functions." The alliterative pairing of facts and figures for "precise information" is by 1727.ETD fact (n.).6

    fact-finding (adj.)

    1909, from fact + present participle of find (v.). Related: Fact-finder.ETD fact-finding (adj.).2

    factional (adj.)

    1640s, from faction (n.1) + -al (1). Shakespeare used factionary (c. 1600).ETD factional (adj.).2

    factionalism (n.)

    1860, American English, from factional + -ism. Prominent up 1930s-1950s in communist jargon.ETD factionalism (n.).2

    faction (n.2)

    "fictional narrative based on real characters or events, 1967, a blend of fact and fiction.ETD faction (n.2).2

    faction (n.1)

    c. 1500, from French faction (14c.) and directly from Latin factionem (nominative factio) "political party, class of persons," literally "a making or doing," noun of action from past participle stem of facere "to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). In ancient Rome, originally "one of the four teams of contenders for the chariot races in the circus," distinguished by the color of their dress. Later "oligarchy, usurping faction, party seeking by irregular means to bring about a change in government."ETD faction (n.1).2


    word-forming element making nouns of action from verbs, from Latin -factionem (nominative -factio), from facere "to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").ETD -faction.2

    factious (adj.)

    "given to faction, turbulently partisan, dissentious," 1530s, from French factieux and directly from Latin factiosus "partisan, seditious, inclined to form parties," from factionem "political party" (see faction (n.1)). Related: Factiously; factiousness.ETD factious (adj.).2

    factitive (adj.)

    "causative, expressive of making or causing," 1813, from Latin factus, past participle of facere "to make, do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put") + -ive.ETD factitive (adj.).2

    factitious (adj.)

    1640s, "made by or resulting from art, artificial," from Latin facticius/factitius "artificial," from factus "elaborate, artistic," past-participle adjective from facere "to make, do; perform; bring about; endure, suffer; behave; suit, be of service" (source of French faire, Spanish hacer), from PIE root *dhe- "to put, to set." Related: Factitiously; factitiousness.ETD factitious (adj.).2

    factoid (n.)

    1973, "published statement taken to be a fact because of its appearance in print," from fact + -oid, first explained, if not coined, by Norman Mailer.ETD factoid (n.).2

    By 1988 it was being used in the sense of "small, isolated bit of true factual information."ETD factoid (n.).3

    factor (n.)

    early 15c., "commercial agent, deputy, one who buys or sells for another," from French facteur "agent, representative" (Old French factor, faitor "doer, author, creator"), from Latin factor "doer, maker, performer," in Medieval Latin, "agent," agent noun from past participle stem of facere "to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). In commerce, especially "a commission merchant." Mathematical sense ("The Quantities given to be multiplied one by the other are called Factors") is from 1670s. Sense of "circumstance producing a result" is attested by 1816, from the mathematical sense.ETD factor (n.).2

    factor (v.)

    1610s, "act as an agent, manage," from factor (n.). The use in mathematics is attested from 1837. Related: Factored; factoring.ETD factor (v.).2

    factory (n.)

    1550s, "estate manager's office," from French factorie (15c.), from Late Latin factorium "office for agents ('factors')," also "oil press, mill," from Latin factor "doer, maker," agent noun from past-participle stem of facere "to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). From 1580s as "establishment of merchants and factors in a foreign place." Sense of "building for making goods" is first attested 1610s. Factory farm is attested from 1890.ETD factory (n.).2

    factorial (n.)

    1816, in mathematics, from factor + -al (2). As an adjective from 1837 in mathematics; from 1881 as "pertaining to a factor."ETD factorial (n.).2

    factotum (n.)

    "one who does all kinds of work for another," 1560s, from Medieval Latin factotum "do everything," from fac, imperative of facere "to make, do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put") + totum "all" (see total (adj.)).ETD factotum (n.).2

    factual (adj.)

    1834, formed from fact on model of actual. Related: Factually.ETD factual (adj.).2

    faculty (n.)

    late 14c., "ability, opportunity, means, resources," from Old French faculte "skill, accomplishment, learning" (14c., Modern French faculté) and directly from Latin facultatem (nominative facultas) "power, ability, capability, opportunity; sufficient number, abundance, wealth," from *facli-tat-s, from facilis "easy to do," of persons, "pliant, courteous, yielding," from facere "to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").ETD faculty (n.).2

    Academic sense "branch of knowledge" (late 14c.) was in Old French and probably was the earliest in English (it is attested in Anglo-Latin from late 12c.), on notion of "ability in knowledge" or "body of persons on whom are conferred specific professional powers." Originally each department was a faculty; the use in reference to the whole teaching staff of an entire college dates from 1767. Related: Facultative. The Latin words facultas and facilitas "were originally different forms of the same word; the latter, owing to its more obvious relationship to the adj., retained the primary sense of 'easiness', which the former had ceased to have before the classical period." [OED]ETD faculty (n.).3

    faculties (n.)

    "powers or properties of one's mind," also "physical functions," early 16c., plural of faculty.ETD faculties (n.).2

    fad (n.)

    1834, "hobby, pet project" (adjective faddy is from 1824), of uncertain origin. Perhaps shortened from fiddle-faddle. Or perhaps from French fadaise "trifle, nonsense," which is ultimately from Latin fatuus "stupid." From 1881 as "fashion, craze," or as Century Dictionary has it, "trivial fancy adopted and pursued for a time with irrational zeal."ETD fad (n.).2

    faddish (adj.)

    "temporarily fashionable," 1855, from fad + -ish. Related: Faddishness.ETD faddish (adj.).2

    faddle (v.)

    "to make much of a child," 1680s. Related: Faddled; faddling.ETD faddle (v.).2

    fade (v.)

    early 14c., "lose brightness, grow pale," from Old French fader "become weak, wilt, wither," from fade (adj.) "pale, weak; insipid, tasteless" (12c.), probably from Vulgar Latin *fatidus, which is said to be a blending of Latin fatuus "silly, tasteless" and vapidus "flat, flavorless." Related: Faded; fading. Of sounds, by 1819. Transitive sense from 1590s; in cinematography from 1918.ETD fade (v.).2

    fade (n.)

    early 14c., "loss of freshness or vigor," from fade (adj.), c. 1300, " lacking in brilliance; pale, discolored, dull," from Old French fade (see fade (v.)). As a type of tapering hairstyle from 1988 (fade-out style is in a 1985 "Ebony" article on men's haircuts).ETD fade (n.).2

    fade-out (n.)

    1918, from verbal phrase, from fade (v.) + out (adv.).ETD fade-out (n.).2

    fader (n.)

    sound control device, 1931, agent noun from fade (v.).ETD fader (n.).2

    fado (n.)

    popular music style of Portugal, 1902, from Latin fatum "fate, destiny" (see fate (n.)). Because the songs tell the fates of their subjects. The music itself is from the earlier lundum, popular late 18c.-early 19c., said to be of African origin via Angola or Brazil.ETD fado (n.).2

    fadoodle (n.)

    "something worthless or foolish," 1660s.ETD fadoodle (n.).2

    faeces (n.)

    see feces.ETD faeces (n.).2

    faecal (adj.)

    see fecal.ETD faecal (adj.).2

    faerie (n.)

    supernatural kingdom, "Elfland," c. 1300, from Old French fairie; see fairy.ETD faerie (n.).2


    see faerie.ETD faery.2

    fag (n.1)

    British slang for "cigarette" (originally, especially, the butt of a smoked cigarette), 1888, probably from fag "loose piece, last remnant of cloth" (late 14c., as in fag-end "extreme end, loose piece," 1610s), which perhaps is related to fag (v.), which could make it a variant of flag (v.).ETD fag (n.1).2

    fag (v.1)

    "to droop, decline in strength, become weary" (intransitive), 1520s, of uncertain origin; OED is content with the "common view" that it is an alteration of flag (v.) in its sense of "droop, go limp." Transitive sense of "to make (someone or something) fatigued, tire by labor" is first attested 1826. Related: Fagged; fagging.ETD fag (v.1).2

    fag (n.2)

    shortening of faggot (n.2) "male homosexual," by 1921. Fag hag "heterosexual woman who keeps company with gay men" attested by 1969.ETD fag (n.2).2

    fag (v.2)

    "put to work at certain duties, compel to work for one's benefit," 1806, from British public school slang fag (n.) "junior student who does certain duties for a senior" (1785), from fag (v.1). Related: Fagdom (1902); faggery "fatiguing labor" (1853). Brain-fag (1850) was an old term for "mental fatigue."ETD fag (v.2).2

    faggot (n.1)

    late 13c., "bundle of twigs bound up," also fagald, faggald, from Old French fagot "bundle of sticks" (13c.), of uncertain origin, probably from Italian fagotto "bundle of sticks," diminutive of Vulgar Latin *facus, from Latin fascis "bundle of wood" (see fasces). But another theory traces the Vulgar Latin word to Greek phakelos "bundle," which is probably Pre-Greek.ETD faggot (n.1).2

    Especially used for burning heretics (emblematic of this from 1550s), so that phrase fire and faggot was used to indicate "punishment of a heretic." Heretics who recanted were required to wear an embroidered figure of a faggot on the sleeve as an emblem and reminder of what they deserved.ETD faggot (n.1).3

    Faggots, the traditional British dish made from the innards of pigs (liver, lungs, heart, spleen) mixed with bread crumbs, rolled in balls, and braised in stock (1851) apparently is the same word, presumably from the notion of "little bits and pieces bound up together."ETD faggot (n.1).4

    faggot (n.2)

    "male homosexual," 1914, American English slang, probably from earlier contemptuous term for "woman" (1590s), especially an old and unpleasant one, in reference to faggot (n.1) "bundle of sticks," as something awkward that has to be carried (compare baggage "worthless woman," 1590s). It may also be reinforced by Yiddish faygele "homosexual" (n.), literally "little bird." It also may have roots in British public school slang noun fag "a junior who does certain duties for a senior" (1785), with suggestions of "catamite," from fag (v.). This also spun off a verb (see fag (v.2).ETD faggot (n.2).2

    Other obsolete British senses of faggot were "man hired into military service merely to fill out the ranks at muster" (1700) and "vote manufactured for party purposes" (1817).ETD faggot (n.2).3

    The explanation that male homosexuals were called faggots because they were burned at the stake as punishment is an etymological urban legend. Burning sometimes was a punishment meted out to homosexuals in Christian Europe (on the suggestion of the Biblical fate of Sodom and Gomorrah), but in England, where parliament had made homosexuality a capital offense in 1533, hanging was the method prescribed. Use of faggot in connection with public executions had long been obscure English historical trivia by the time the word began to be used for "male homosexual" in 20th century American slang, whereas the contemptuous slang word for "woman" (in common with the other possible sources or influences listed here) was in active use early 20c., by D.H. Lawrence and James Joyce, among others.ETD faggot (n.2).4

    Fagin (n.)

    character in "Oliver Twist" (1838); used for "trainer of thieves" by 1842.ETD Fagin (n.).2

    fagot (n.)

    early alternative spelling of faggot (n.1).ETD fagot (n.).2

    fagoting (n.)

    in embroidery, 1885, from faggot (n.1) "bundle." So called from the threads tied together in the middle.ETD fagoting (n.).2

    fagus (n.)

    botanical genus of beech trees, from Latin fagus "beech," from PIE root *bhago- "beech tree" (source also of Greek phegos "oak," Latin fagus "beech," Russian buzina "elder," Old English bece, Old Norse bok, German Buche "beech"), perhaps with a ground sense of "edible" (and connected with the root of Greek phagein "to eat," from PIE root *bhag- "to share out, apportion; to get a share"). Beech mast was an ancient food source for agricultural animals across a wide stretch of Europe.ETD fagus (n.).2

    Fahrenheit (adj.)

    temperature scale, 1753, named for Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit (1686-1736), Prussian physicist who proposed the scale in 1714. The "zero" in it is arbitrary, based on the lowest temperature observed by him during the winter of 1709 in Danzig. An abstract surname meaning literally "experience."ETD Fahrenheit (adj.).2


    fem. proper name, in some cases from Middle English fei, Old French fei "faith," or else from fay "fairy."ETD Fay.2

    fay (n.)

    "fairy," late 14c., from Old French fae (12c., Modern French fée), from Vulgar Latin *fata "goddess of fate," fem. singular of Latin fata (neuter plural), literally "the Fates" (see fate (n.)). Adjective meaning "homosexual" is attested from 1950s.ETD fay (n.).2

    faience (n.)

    fine kind of pottery or earthenware, 1714, from French faïence (16c.), probably from Fayence, French form of Faenza, city in Italy that was a noted ceramics center 16c. The city name is Latin faventia, literally "silence, meditation," perhaps a reference to a tranquil location.ETD faience (n.).2

    fail (v.)

    c. 1200, "be unsuccessful in accomplishing a purpose;" also "cease to exist or to function, come to an end;" early 13c. as "fail in expectation or performance," from Old French falir "be lacking, miss, not succeed; run out, come to an end; err, make a mistake; be dying; let down, disappoint" (11c., Modern French faillir), from Vulgar Latin *fallire, from Latin fallere "to trip, cause to fall;" figuratively "to deceive, trick, dupe, cheat, elude; fail, be lacking or defective." De Vaan traces this to a PIE root meaning "to stumble" (source also of Sanskrit skhalate "to stumble, fail;" Middle Persian škarwidan "to stumble, stagger;" Greek sphallein "to bring or throw down," sphallomai "to fall;" Armenian sxalem "to stumble, fail"). If so, the Latin sense is a metaphorical shift from "stumble" to "deceive." Related: Failed; failing.ETD fail (v.).2

    Replaced Old English abreoðan. From c. 1200 as "be unsuccessful in accomplishing a purpose;" also "cease to exist or to function, come to an end;" early 13c. as "fail in expectation or performance."ETD fail (v.).3

    From mid-13c. of food, goods, etc., "to run short in supply, be used up;" from c. 1300 of crops, seeds, land. From c. 1300 of strength, spirits, courage, etc., "suffer loss of vigor; grow feeble;" from mid-14c. of persons. From late 14c. of material objects, "break down, go to pieces."ETD fail (v.).4

    fail (n.)

    late 13c., "failure, deficiency" (as in without fail), from Old French faile "deficiency," from falir (see fail (v.)). The Anglo-French form of the verb, failer, also came to be used as a noun, hence failure.ETD fail (n.).2

    failing (n.)

    late 14c., "failure;" 1580s, "defect, fault," verbal noun from fail (v.).ETD failing (n.).2

    fail-safe (adj.)

    also failsafe, fail safe "safe against failure," 1945, originally in reference to aircraft construction, from fail (v.) + safe (adj.). The novel about a nuclear attack caused by mechanical error is from 1962.ETD fail-safe (adj.).2

    failure (n.)

    1640s, failer, "a failing, deficiency," also "act of failing," from Anglo-French failer, Old French falir "be lacking; not succeed" (see fail (v.)). The verb in Anglo-French used as a noun; ending altered 17c. in English to conform with words in -ure. Meaning "thing or person considered as a failure" is from 1837.ETD failure (n.).2

    fain (adj.)

    Old English fægen, fagen "glad, cheerful, happy, joyful, rejoicing," from a common Germanic root (cognates: Old Saxon fagan, Old Norse feginn "glad," Old High German faginon, Gothic faginon "to rejoice"), perhaps from PIE *pek- (1) "to make pretty." Often it means "glad" in a relative sense, "content to accept when something better is unobtainable." As an adverb, from c. 1200. Related: Fainly. Compare fawn (v.).ETD fain (adj.).2

    faineant (adj.)

    1855; earlier as a noun (1610s); from French fainéant (16c.) "do-nothing," from fait, third person singular of faire "to do" (from Latin facere "to make, do," from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put") + néant "nothing" (compare dolce far niente). According to OED this is a French folk-etymology alteration of Old French faignant (14c.), present participle of faindre "to feign" (see feign). Applied in French to the late Merovingian kings, puppets in the hands of the palace mayors. Related: Faineance "the habit of doing nothing."ETD faineant (adj.).2

    faint (v.)

    c. 1300, "grow weak, become enfeebled," also "lack courage or spirit, be faint-hearted," and "to pretend, feign;" from faint (adj.). Sense of "swoon, lose consciousness" is from c. 1400. Also used in Middle English of the fading of colors, flowers, etc. Related: Fainted; fainting. For Chaucer and Shakespeare, also a transitive verb ("It faints me").ETD faint (v.).2

    faintness (n.)

    early 14c., "feebleness, weariness," from faint (adj.) + -ness. Meaning "exhaustion" is mid-15c. Of color, light, etc., from 1640s.ETD faintness (n.).2

    faint (adj.)

    c. 1300, "enfeebled; wearied, exhausted," from Old French faint, feint "false, deceitful; sham, artificial; weak, faint, lazy, indolent, cowardly," past participle of feindre "hesitate, falter, be indolent, show weakness, avoid one's duty by pretending," from Latin fingere "to touch, handle; devise; fabricate, alter, change" (from PIE root *dheigh- "to form, build"). Also from c. 1300 as "deceitful; unreliable; false." Meaning "wanting in spirit or courage, cowardly" (a sense now mostly encountered in faint-hearted) is from early 14c. From early 15c. of actions, functions, colors, etc., "weak, feeble, poor." Meaning "producing a feeble impression upon the senses" is from 1650s.ETD faint (adj.).2

    faint (n.)

    c. 1300, "faintness, faint-heartedness," from faint (adj.). From 1808 as "a swoon."ETD faint (n.).2

    faint-hearted (adj.)

    "cowardly, timorous," c. 1400, from faint (adj.) + -hearted. Related: Faint-heartedly; faint-heartedness; faint-heart.ETD faint-hearted (adj.).2

    faintish (adj.)

    1660s, from faint (adj.) + -ish.ETD faintish (adj.).2

    faintly (adv.)

    c. 1300, "dispiritedly, timidly, half-heartedly;" early 14c. "feebly, wearily, without vigor;" from faint (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "indistinctly" is from 1580s. Also in Middle English, "deceitfully, hypocritically, falsely" (mid-14c.).ETD faintly (adv.).2

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