Humanoid Species, depicted in the various Star Trek franchises (mostly Next Gen. and DS9). Ferengi are recognizable by their short stature and their abnormally large ear lobes, which incidentally act as erogenous zones. Ferengi are best known for their business sense and their greed, as laid down in the Rules of Acquisition.

The Ferengi were first mentioned in the very first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Encounter at Farpoint". They were regarded as a species of fierce, bloodthirsty Mafiosi known to eat their former trading partners. Their early appearances bore this out -- the Enterprise crew's first several encounters with the Ferengi were violent, and the Ferengi were often better-armed. Early on in the show, these short, orange-skinned, sharp-toothed aliens were a suitable replacement for the pacified Klingon Empire as the chief threat to the Federation's peace.

Linguistic note: The name "Ferengi" is an Indo-European word meaning "alien" or "foreigner". From it comes the word "Varangian", which was the Byzantine Greek name for the Vikings -- history's archetypal raiders-and-traders. (The Russians called the same people "Variag".) Arabic can play, too; see "Ferengistan".

Over the course of ST:TNG, the Ferengi became less fierce and, instead, increasingly sleazy -- in personal matters as well as financial. This process seems to have culminated in certain chunder-inducing scenes of Lwaxana Troi masturbating a Ferengi captain's earlobes. By the beginning of DS9, the pacified Ferengi had been completely replaced by the Cardassians as the "threat species", and could now be played for comic relief.

Generic Amharic term for foreigner, meaning mainly westerners. The word is really a corruption of the germanic term Frank. Similar corruptions can be found throughout a zone stretching from Ireland in the west to Malaysia in the east. The word has more or less followed the French throughout their colonial adventures.

Although the country itself it was never colonised, the French presence in Djibouti led to contacts with Ethiopia. Use of the term in Amharic was probably introduced no earlier than the middle of the 19th century. It may have found its way into Amharic by way of the Greek "frangi" and the Egyptian "farangi." Another theory holds that is was derived from "Ferenchi" which is itself a corruption of the English "French" or "Frenchie" since the British had interests in nearby Yemen and it probably stems from a time when both English and French were filtering southwards through the Sudan. The latter theory is linguistically less sound though. The first British invaders of Afghanistan were also given the label "ferengi."

The Star Trek series features an alien race of stereotypical money-grubbing, misogynistic traders called the Ferengi. Use of the name Ferengi in Star Trek may not be entirely coincidental, as there is a hint of an Ethiopian theme surrounding the Ferengi.

Thanks to Gritchka for helping check out the linguistics and to Apollyon for the Afghan angle.

The Ferengi hold the title of Star Trek's only culture based entirely on commerce. They can be visibly identified by their bulbous heads, sharp teeth, and oversized ears, and otherwise identified by their tightly-closed wallets and ethically dubious but always lucrative business contracts.

According to the DS9 episode “Little Green Men,” Ferengi history began over 10,000 years ago. Their history is reportedly clear of human characteristics like genocide and slavery, although it's questionable that a profit-based society could have developed without attempting the latter (note: DS9 “Family Business” makes mention of indentured servitude as a punishment for the most severe of crimes). The Ferengi greatly expanded their potential consumer base by purchasing warp technology, and their primary main mode of interstellar transportation is the D'kora-class starship, which is slightly crescent-shaped with a long frontal protrusion. After leaving their homeworld of Ferenginar, the Ferengi opted not to limit their market by aligning with any of the major interstellar organizations. Instead, they renamed their present government the Ferengi Alliance (under the control of the Grand Nagus), and they continued the profit-based culture they'd been developing for 100 centuries. Their culture is based upon the Laws of Acquisition.

The isolationist practices of the Ferengi have opened as many doors as they've metaphorically closed: occasionally, a Ferengi representative will accompany the diplomat of another planet or organization in the hopes that crossing trade barriers will ultimately lead to better relations. This puts the Ferengi in a position to profit from the intergalactic tension, and if there's one thing a Ferengi loves, it's profit.

On Ferenginar, worldly wealth crosses over the great divide. The Ferengi have developed a commerce-based religion that promises reincarnation to those who have been successful before their death by allowing the deceased to bid on his next life using the money he accumulated in his last. This implies a karmic cycle that's difficult to break out of.

One of the many questionable policies of the Ferengi Alliance is their insistence that all Ferengi women remain unclothed and homebound. Recently, this policy has been relaxed, but the tension is far from resolved. It is implied that the rights of women will improve with Nog as the new Grand Nagus.

Another noder described the etymology of the word “Ferengi,” but it's worth noting that the source words still receive a great deal of usage in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Malaysia.

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