• factitious •
fæk-ti-shês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Artificial, fake, artificially rather than naturally created or produced, lacking authenticity.
Notes: Here is a word that is about to be lost between two other very similar words: fictitious and factious. Fictitious, of course, means "of fiction, not real". Factious means "broken into factions". The adverb for today's adjective is, as always, factitiously, and the noun, factitiousness.
In Play: Anything artificial or fake deserves today's word: "Wyatt Hertz is a flagrant hypochondriac who complains of myriad factitious maladies." Even emotions: "As a token of factitious sympathy for a man he actually hated, McGundy sent his boss flowers in the hospital."
Word History: Today's Good Word was Latin factitius "artificial", based on factus "elaborate, artistic", the past participle of facere "to do, make", the source of French faire, Italian fare, Portuguese fazer, and Spanish hacer "to do, make". Spanish (and English) hacienda also comes from the gerundive of this word; Latin facienda meant "things to be done". Facere devolved from the Proto-Indo-European root dhe- "to put, to set, to do", which also produced English do and deed, German tun, Russian delat' "to do, make", Lithuanian déti "to put", Polish dziać "to happen", and many more throughout the Indo-European languages. (We must now show a bit of unfactitious gratitude to our South African friend Chris Stewart for his recommendation of today's Good Word.)
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