Printable Version
Pronunciation: fê-rah-go Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A disorganized jumble of things, an assortment, hotchpotch, salmagundi, miscellany, clumsy mixture, gallimaufry, or jumble of odds and ends.

Notes: Back in the 16th century two adjectives emerged that I rather like: farraginous and farraginary. They have not stood up well against the tramping of time, but I can easily imagine a farraginous (or farraginary) speech made up of nothing more than bits and pieces from the speaker's life. An E is usually added to the plural, farragoes, but this bit of adornment may be foregone and we may write simply farragos.

In Play: If you think about it, the US is a farrago of cultures from all over the world: "We found ourselves to be such a farrago of nationalities, we decided to put together an international fair for the benefit of the entire city." We also find farragoes all around the house: "Dinner tonight will be a farrago of leftovers; I needed to clean out the refrigerator."

Word History: Today's Good Word is simply Latin farrago "mixed fodder, a hodgepodge", removed from that language and served as is. This word was derived from far, farris "spelt", the Latin remains of Proto-Indo-European bhares- "barley". The root of the Latin word can also be seen in farina, also borrowed from Latin. In Old English this same PIE stem picked up a common suffix, -lik "like" (today -ly, as in friendly, commonly) and emerged as bærlic "barley-like", then went on to become barley itself. The name for the place for storing barley came to be Modern English barn. (We will offer no farrago of words but a pointed word of thanks to Ed Pellicciotti for suggesting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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