• feck •
Pronunciation: fek • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A large number of something, the bulk, the majority, as 'the feck of the town council'. 2. Value, worth, good (result), effect, efficacy, as 'no feck will come of it'. 3. Part, portion, as 'took the best feck of the puppies'. 4. Euphemism for the f-word.
Notes: Did you ever wonder what a feckless person had less of than others? Now you have the answer to that question in meaning 2 above. Today's Good Word is more likely to be encountered in northern England or Scotland, but it is legitimate in all other dialects of English. The antonym of feckless is, of course, feckful.
In Play: Almost all the examples of feck on the Web above are in Scottish or northern English dialects: "I hae been a devil the feck o' my life." The second meaning is the one that went into the making of feckless: "Barb Dwyer is a woman of strong character and much feck." The third sense of this word is "bulk, majority": "The feck o' the laddies came, but only a few lassies."
Word History: Today's word comes from Scotland and northern England, where effect underwent aphesis, the dropping of the initial unaccented vowel that resulted in 'feck. English effect is only a slightly modified version of Latin effectum "effect". The Latin word is the neuter past participle of the verb efficere "to work out, bring about, cause" used as a noun. This word comprises ex "out (of)" + the combining form of facere "to make, to do". Facere came from the PIE verb dhe-/dho- "to set, put", that also produced English do and deed. English fashion came from the same source by a more circuitous route. In Middle English this word was spelled facioun, borrowed from Old French façon "appearance, manner". Old French refashioned its word from factus, the past participle of Latin facere. Yet another example of English pirating different words from other languages at different points in the same word's historical development. (Christ Stewart, our long-time feckful friend, is due our gratitude for suggesting today's effective Good Word.)