• furphy •
fêr-fi • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: (Australian slang) 1. A rumor, an item of gossip or scuttlebutt. 2. A fanciful, apocryphal story, a tall tale.
Notes: Even though this word has a recent eponym (see below), it is already a common noun in Australia spelled with a lower case F (f). You may use the noun as a verb (I'm not furphying you); just remember the Y-I swap before endings except -ing: furphies, furphied, but furphying. There are no other forms in widespread use, though we may surmise that someone who furfies a lot is a furfier.
In Play: This funny little word works as a profanity patch that helps us kick the cursing habit in sentences like this one: "No furphy, the boss and the new CFO, Lucinda Head, ran off to South America together and took most of the company's money with them." This means that the story around the office that the boss was having an affair with his secretary was—you guessed it—just another furphy.
Word History: The eponym of today's word was an Australian businessman by the name of John Furphy, known for his famous Furphy Farm Water Carts. During the First World War these carts were converted to portable water tanks for the Australian army. The men who moved these carts from camp to camp during the war were also purveyors of rather questionable stories about the progress of the war and life at other camps. As the war progressed, the name of the water cart came to designate the gossip associated with it.
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