• foley •
fo-lee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: (Film-making) Real or unreal sound effects created to mimic ambient background noises for movies or videos, such as recorded actual gull cries or shaking a large piece of sheet metal to imitate thunder.
Notes: Anyone in possession of a smartphone is now a 'film-maker', so this word might come in handy for many of us. It hasn't been used as a verb (yet), but it is usually used as an attributive adjective: 'foley artist', 'foley effect', 'foley workshop'. Since it is an eponym, some writers preserve the capitalization of the originator's name, but it is clearly a common noun now. The plural is foleys.
In Play: A foley may be dubbed into a film or video after it has been shot: "Rodney added foleys to his video of the party that suggested quite a different activity was going on." Foleys may create a sense of reality or to misguide viewers: "Randolph added foley cricket noises to the snogging scene to make it sound like it was taking place at night."
Word History: Today's Good Word is a most recent eponym. It first appeared in print in 1973 in American Cinematographer. It was the surname of Jack Foley (1891-1967), pioneering sound effect editor at Universal Studios in the 1930s. It is now well commonized. (Let's all give a bow of gratitude now to our constant contributor Rob Towart for discovering and sharing today's Good Word with us.)
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