Printable Version
Pronunciation: foy Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A bon voyage party or celebration of the completion of something, such a harvest celebration. 2. A parting gift or farewell toast.

Notes: Today's lovely little word gets to the point much faster than our more usual expressions, like "one for the road", "farewell party", and the like. We should be grateful to the Scots for preserving it for us; Scotland is the only area where it still breathes today. Perhaps that is because it is a lexical orphan with no derivational relatives to support it.

In Play: A foy can be almost any type of celebration to someone going on a journey or the end of something. It can be a present: "I think we should chip in to buy Harry Wormser-Goode an impressive foy that will express just how happy we are to see him take the job in Fiji." It can be just a toast: "I just saw Harvey Wallbanger crawling out the door of the pub; let's drink a good luck foy to him on his journey home!"

Word History: English borrowed this word from Middle Dutch foye "journey", a Dutch adjustment of French voie "way, road, route". French inherited the word from Latin via "way, road", a word English borrowed directly as a preposition meaning "by way of", as to send a letter via airmail. German Weg and English way came from the same Proto-Indo-European word as via. We assume that primitive word meant both "go" and "carry, haul", since we also see it in English wagon. More surprisingly, we can trace weigh back to the same word, apparently as a result of the interpretation of weighing as carrying something in a set of old balancing scales. By wiggling the etymology a little, we can also account for wiggle as moving just a little: the suffix -le is often found on words that were diminutives in Old English. (We hope never to drink a foy to Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, one of our Good Word editors, so long as he suggests interesting words like today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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