• faux •
fo • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Phony, false, fake, artificial, imitation.
Notes: This Good Word is so fresh from French that it retains the French spelling and pronunciation. It didn't bring any of its family from France but did come with a few French phrases, such as faux pas, a slip-up or mistake, and faux naïf, a person who pretends to be naive. However, it comes without any derived adverb or noun.
In Play: This Good Word works wonders when you need an expression for affected, pretentious imitation: "Did you see Maude Lynn Dresser arrive at the party last night, wearing that faux fur stole I'm sure she picked up at a second-hand store?" Of course, we do find the occasional advantage of fakery: "Owen Cash was held up yesterday by a mugger who got only that faux Rolex he bought from a sidewalk salesman for $25. (I think it was actually called a Polex.)"
Word History: The English voracity for words in other languages leads to this situation over and over again: faux is exactly the same word as false borrowed at different times in the development of that word in French. Faux is the Modern French word for "false", but in Old French it was fals, (feminine false). Still unsatiated, we borrowed it once again from Italian as falsetto, that artificially high male singing voice. French and Italian inherited the word from Latin falsus, the past participle of fallere "to fall, to deceive". We find the same root in Greek phelos "deceitful", but it doesn't seem to occur naturally (unborrowed) in any other Indo-European languages. (Be assured that this is no faux gratitude that we now offer Chuck Lee of Carson City, Nevada, for suggesting today's Good Word. It is the real stuff.)
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