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Friday, March 30, 2012

Selections from My Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang

Posted by Courtney Ferguson on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Slangy kicking back, letting the normal dictionary do most of the work.
  • Slangy kicking back, letting the normal dictionary do most of the work.

Continuing my Blogtown series, where I peruse my favorite book in the world, the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume I, A-G by J.E. Lighter.

This week's slang is brought to you by the letter "F."

fandango n. 1.a. a dancing party or celebration of any kind; any boisterous assembly or occasion; a fight. Now mainly historic.
1780: "They were found at a fandango, or merry-meeting, with a party of lasses.
1.b. a confused or foolish action or undertaking foolishness.
1894: "The hippopotamus does not indulge in these fandangoes.

fingernails n. pl. Printing. parentheses.
1927: "But few outside the trade know that parentheses are 'fingernails' or that exclamation points are 'screamers,' 'astonishers,' or 'shouts.'"

foo fighter n. US Air Force. any unidentifiable light encountered by aircrews during combat operations in WWII and presumed to be a German secret weapon. Now historic.
1945 NY Times: "'There are three kinds of these lights we call foo fighters,' Lieutenant Donald Meiers of Chicago said. 'One is red balls of fire which appear off our wing tips and [others] fly in front of us, and the third is a group of about 15 lights which appear off in the distance—like a Christmas tree in the air—and flicker on and off.'"

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