Bill Long 10/31/08
Let's explore about seven or so more words beginning with "f." They are: feculent, ferity, faviform, fandango, farruca and fantasticate. Ok, for a bonus, let's begin with one that should make us smile. Did you know that the word "daddy-long-legs" to describe arachnids only goes back to 1814, but before it was called a "daddy-long-legs" it was denominated "father-long-legs"? I would like to know exactly how it went through that transition, for "daddy" truly has won the day today.
7. Something feculent contains "fecal matter." This means it is laden or polluted with filth. It is foul or fetid. We have lots of interesting words in English ending with "lent," such as truculent, succulent, redolent. Know what each means. We might have a "feculent or dreggy refuse," or a "misty Air, Fog and Feculent," but we also have references to a figurative use of the term. From 1660: "Heralds..distinguishable from the feculent plebs..by their gay Coats." Or, from 1866: "The most feculent corruptions of modern civilization." Take some time to pronounce the word and savor it, so to speak. You almost hear the "filth" part of it with the expelled air as you say "fec." Indeed, for those who love the concept of expressing indignation, the sound fec is a great adjunct to filth.
8. Ferity takes us back to ferus, fera, which means "wild." Ferity is the "state or quality of being wild or savage." Ferity is wildness, brutishness or ferocity. Distinguish it from feracious, which means "productive" or "fruitful," and if you do, you will develop a ferocious vocabulary. The word had a sort of effloresence in the 19th century, as anthropologists described the ferity of other (not British, of course) cultures. Earlier, the 17th century divine, Jeremy Taylor, could write: "The evil of his heart is but like the ferity and wildness of lions' whelps." A synonym for ferity is ferineness (FEE rin nes). From the 19th century: "A conversation with those that were fallen into a more barbarous habit of life and manners would easily assimilate, at least, the next generation to barbarism and ferineness."
9. Let's take a fun break with fantasticate. The usual meaning of fantasticate is "to render fantastic." "We had a terrific opportunity in the nineteenth century to elaborate and fantasticate our social structure." We might say, "Children often have the tendency to fantasticate, especially when they are excited." But then one might have a "fantasticating style of art" or language that is "highly fantasticated." From a 2002 book on Shakespeare, entitled The Comedies (ed. by Allardyce Nicoll, et al.):
"There had been remorseless emphasis on a single character or sometimes a single scene. The words had been trapped in the net of a fantasticated style, lost in a welter of comic goings-on, coarsened by cleverness or stifled by being forced out of their native air," (pp. 69-70).
I have no idea if she is right here; but she has used the word!
10. Something faviform has the form of a honeycomb or bee's nest. It is derived from favus. We also have the word faveolus, a honeycomb-like cell, pit, or depression. Faveolate means "honeycombed, alveolate (good word!); pitted." Faviform is said to be obsolete by the OED and, indeed, when it was "in," in the 18th century, it only had a surgical reference. Chalmers, in his Cyclopeida Supplement, defined it as follows: "Faviform, in sugery, a term used to express certain ulcers, which when pressed upon with the finger emit a sanies thro' several small holes." Hence the sense that the stuff is coming out through the various combs.
Ah, what is sanies? Or, what are sanies? The word is from the Latin and means "diseased blood" or "bloody matter." It is a thin greenish or reddish discharge from a wound or sores. As the Century says, it is "less thick and white than laudable pus." Hm. "Laudable" pus. Does that mean you sing a hymn to the pus, sort of "We laud thee oh pus?" Nope, I discovered this meaning of "laudable: In pathology, healthy, salubrious, natural." "If the abscess has not been exposed to the air, its contents are laudable or healthy inodorous pus." So, if a knife can have virtue, I suppose that pus can be laudable.
11. and 12. I am feeling like finishing off this essay, but let's do it with a few dance terms: farruca and fandango. Well, fandango was not, in the first instance, an online booking source for theater tickets. It is, in fact, a "lively dance in 3/4 time, very popular in Spain and Spanish America." So, by extension it is a tune to which the fandango is danced. From 1866: "Gluck adopted in his ballet 'Don Juan' a well-known Spanish fandango." And here is Gluck's fandango, with lads and lasses dancing this regal step. It only has had 145 views, so you will be adding considerably to its acclaim by watching it. And, here is Herb Alpert spicing it up considerably. All the dances of the world! My, if you were to eat a different food from various parts of the world each meal, and dance a new dance each day, I bet you would never learn them all. But there is joy in each--find it and you will learn to find joy in almost any venture in life you attempt.
Well, the farruca is derived from from the nickname of Francisco, and is a local Spanish dance, especially in Galicia and Asturias. From 1914 we have: "La Farruca, el Tango and el Garrotin, the most popular Flamenco dances at present, preserve to admiration the Gipsy qualities." And, "La Farruca probably exploits more completely than any of its fellows the varied resources of the Flamenco." An author from 1931 made the claim: "Of all the dances of Spain it is the Farruca which provides a man with the fullest opportunities of displaying his powers." Here is a 1969 video of the incomparable Antonio Gades dancing the farruca. All his powers, indeed... Quite some tapping of the feet. And here is an interview (in Spanish) of Gades about the farruca.
Where will this learning ever stop? Won't we ever get to the end? Well, it may be in sight, so let's keep at it.