• fait •
Pronunciation: fayt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: (Used in only two idiomatic phrases) 1. Fait accompli: Unchangeably completed, irreversible deed, a done deal. 2. Au fait: Fully informed, expert, familiar with.
Notes: Today's Good Word is the most common way the word fate is misspelled and vice versa, so look out. It appears only in the two phrases listed above, both borrowed from French.
In Play: Let's look at the usage of the first sense of this phrase, since it is the most common: "When Congress returned from recess it found the appointments of the Presidential nominees a fait accompli." The second sense is less often encountered: "Rex Motors was supposed to be au fait with the latest developments in engine design."
Word History: This Good Word is the remnant in French of Latin factum "event, occurrence," literally "thing done", the neuter past participle of facere "to do, make". English also borrowed the word directly from Latin as fact, factious, and all the verbs containing the root -fect, like infect, defect, and perfect. The source of Latin facere was the Proto-Indo-European root dhe- "put, do", which also emerged in Sanskrit dadhati "puts, places", Greek tithenai "to put, set", and Russian delat' "to do, make". Closer to home we find the remnants of this root in German tun "do" and English do. (We cannot call today's Good Word a fait accompli until we thank Trent Pelelei of Brisbane, Australia, for suggesting it.)