Printable Version
Pronunciation: fên-jê-bêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Exchangeable, substitutable, of equivalent value. 2. Compatible, similar in nature.

Notes: The adverb for this adjective is formed by simply replacing the final [e] with a [y]: fungibly. The noun, of course, is fungibility. An object that is fungible with another may be called a fungible, which is to say that the adjective may be used as a noun standing alone: "Your clunker of a car is no fungible for my racing bike."

In Play: Fungible is a term used widely in various trades: "When complaining to the dry-cleaner about the dress mix-up, Lily White vociferously stated 'Wedding dresses are not fungible'." You could also say that wedding dresses and plain dresses are not fungibles. In the gas and oil industry, this term is often used in the sense of "compatible": "Different types of gas may be transported in the same pipeline so long as they are fungible."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from the Medieval Latin fungibilis, an adjective from the verb fungi "to perform, carry out". The past participle of this verb, functus, underlies the English Latinate borrowing function. We know that the root of this word originally meant "enjoy", probably used in the sense of "taking advantage of", for the same root appears in Sanskrit bhunkte "enjoys". The verb fungi is not related to fungus, which comes from the same original root as Greek sphongos "sponge". (Our gratitude to Dr. Lyn Laboriel for suggesting this legal contribution to the general language is fungible with our indebtedness to her. Gordon Wray helped with the examples.)

Dr. Goodword,

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