Return to foofaraw (idea)

Also spelled fofarraw, fofarrow, frufraw, foofooraw.


“All in all, it was the goldarndest, Barnum-and-Baileyest, rib-stickinest, rough-and-tumblest infernal foofaraw of a media circus anybody had seen since grandpaw chased the possum down the road and lost his store teeth, and I was heartily sorry to have been a part of it.”
--[Steel Beach] by [John Varley].

An [Americanism], originally meaning something [tawdry] or [gaudy], something with an excessive amount of [ornamentation]. Eventually it also came to mean a great [fuss] over a trifling matter; a [hullaballoo]; [making a mountain out of a molehill].

This word first appeared in writing in [1848], when the English adventurer and travel writer [George Frederick Augustus Ruxton] published an account of his travels among the [trader|traders] and [trapper|trappers] of the American [Rocky Mountains] in an article for [Blackwood’s Magazine]; he reported that those on the frontier used this word to refer to baubles, bangles and beads.

Most likely, these folks got it from the [Spanish] fanfarrón, meaning 'a [braggart]'. This in turn probably came from the [Arabic] farfar, meaning '[talkative]', abducted into the Spanish language during the period that Spain was occupied by the [Moors].

Use of foofaraw is currently on the decline, and while most well-read Americans will recognize it, at least well enough to recognize its meaning in context, it is almost never used in either conversation or writing. I have found one Canadian who reports it being used where she lives, but it is dying off in America, and has apparently never really made it to the UK.

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