Printable Version
Pronunciation: spuf Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, verb

Meaning: 1. A light hoax or deception made in good humor. 2. A light-hearted trick played on someone. 3. A light-hearted parody or satire in a work of art, as 'a spoof of Robin Hood'.

Notes: This word functions as well as a verb as it does a noun. 'To spoof someone' can mean to trick them. The personal noun from this verbal usage of this word is spoofer. As usual, the present participle, spoofing, serves as both action noun and adjective, as 'to give someone a good spoofing' and 'not the spoofing type'.

In Play: The most widely used sense of today's word is "a parody": "The movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights is a spoof of all the other Robin Hood flicks." The verbal sense most often heard is "to trick": "We spoofed Gladys Friday into thinking it was 5 o'clock and, walking out the door at 3:30, she bumped into the boss."

Word History: Today's Good Word has come a long way, from a meaningless name of a game to a hoax to a light-hearted parody. It was made up in the 1880s by the British comedian Arthur Roberts (1852-1933) as the name of a game involving trickery and nonsense. Probably a blend of spook + goof, though it was originally spelled spouf in the few times it made print. That spelling may have been a spoof, since most other English words spelled OU are pronounced [æw]: spouse, house, spout, etc. The first recorded reference to the game in 1884 refers to its revival. The verbal sense "to satirize gently" was first recorded in 1927, and the nominal sense of "a light-hearted parody or satire", in 1958. That is all the pertinent information we have about the origin of the word. (This word was first suggested by a Junior Lexiterian using the moniker JohnYY back in 2012. It was posted to the wrong shop in the Agora, hence the delay in publishing it.)

Dr. Goodword,

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