Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wherefore art thou Farrago?

I found a note that I sent to myself, months ago, about the word Farrago (pronounced Fuh-rah-go) if I ever wanted to do etymology again. This blog has certainly lost that original focus, though I admit that there was not much to lose as this blog consists of less than twenty posts. Unfortunately, I don't even remember where I came across this word, but it is just the kind of word I like to highlight here, as it doesn't get used much, but it certainly could.

Farrago is "a confused mixture or hodgepodge." See--there are endless possibilities. It comes from the Latin "farragin," which has something to do with "mixed cattle fodder." Some of the dictionaries I consulted also hint at some relation with barley, whose Latin counterpart I keep seeing as "far spelt", but I can't tell, with my limited linguistic training, whether "far spelt" is a translation, or if the "far" is Latin for "spelt". Sorry, just geeking out a little. Anyway, it's a very old word, used as early as 1623.

It can be used in so many charming ways. For example, "This gallery has a fine farrago of artwork." Or, "My life is a 'farragin' farrago right now!" Or as my wife might say to me, "Honey, what on earth is that farrago you are making in the kitchen...I'm not eating that."

I haven't once seen it used as a verb, but I think that's a shame. Think of how useful it could be: "Excuse me, sir, could you repeat the question--I'm a little farragoed from last night's office party." Or, "No, I still don't get it; I think my parents farragoed me as a child." Or, "How would you like your eggs: sunny-side up, scrambled, or totally farragoed?"

Seriously, this word is worth a test-drive. But please--farrago responsibly.

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