• fard •
fahrd • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Face-paint, makeup, or facial cosmetic. 2. Any cover-up or decoration that conceals a fault or imperfection.
Notes: In the 18th century English noblewomen applied a white coloring to their faces to conceal the footprints of time. Today we have other words for facial makeup, but fard is still useful in emphasizing makeup that specifically covers blemishes. Today kids love faces painted on them in fard. Fard faces were a feature of my seven-year-old granddaughter's recent birthday party.
In Play: Now that makeup has staged its comeback after the Sixties, it is time to give this funny word another chance: "Barbie Dahl is such a master at farding her face, you would never dream that her last birthday was her sixtieth." It may also be used as a verb in the wider sense: "The president uses these weekly socials as a means of farding over the tensions and conflicts that can't be resolved by management."
Word History: This funny little word comes from French farder "to apply makeup". The stem of this word was probably borrowed from Old High German faro "colored", which went on to become German Farbe "color" borrowed by Serbian as farba, Slovak farba "color, paint", and Czech barva "color, paint". The same root emerged in Latin as perca and in Greek as perke "perch". After having been passed on down through several centuries to French, we borrowed it as our word perch, a colorful little fish. (This is yet another word included in The 100 Funniest Words in English, but was neglected in the Good Word series. By the way, the book makes a swell Christmas gift for word-lovers.)