Printable Version
Pronunciation: fêg Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A musty, stale, stuffy atmosphere of a poorly ventilated or overheated room. 2. Malodorous air, especially from cigarette smoke.

Notes: Here is a word more often heard in the UK than the US. It comes with an adjective, fuggy, which allows an abstract noun, fugginess. It also has singular comparative forms: fuggier and fuggiest.

In Play: Fugs are not always unpleasant: "George was right at home in the cozy fug of the music halls". They may be, though, particularly if they involve cigarette smoke: "Journalism is a far cry from the old days, when it was produced in the fug of nicotine-stained newsrooms."

Word History: There seems to be some question as to the origin of this word. One line of thought has it derived from the Briticism fogo "stench", which seems to be a variant of hogo "unpleasant taste or smell". Now, hogo is the English rendition of French haut-goût "high-flavor", which may be taken as "piquancy" or "slightly tainted". Now, fogo could be an attempt to clarify whether the smell is positive or negative by calling the bad small faux-goût "wrong-smell", though no published evidence of this spelling has been preserved. Following the same inclination that converted haut-goût to hogo, faux-goût becomes fogo. That leaves only a simple mispronunciation to produce fug or fuggy. Other explanations include the much simpler blend of funk and fog, equally unsupported by the printed word. (Now we need to thank Jan Linders for providing us with yet another unusual Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!