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Nov 26, 2003
This week's theme
Words formed in error

This week's words
derring-do
internecine
faineant
sand-blind
aught

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faineant

(FAY-nee-uhnt, French: fay-nay-AHN) Pronunciation RealAudio

adjective: Idle.
noun: A do-nothing; idler.

From French fainéant, alteration of fait-néant (literally, does nothing), by folk etymology from faignant, present participle of faindre (to feign).

So a mistaken assumption about the derivation of the word turned the original French faignant (feigning) into faineant (does nothing), the present form. In French history, many kings have been called les rois fainéants as the real power was in the hands of mayors of the palace.

"Moved in equal parts by ambition, restlessness, and an impulse to do good, he has filled any and all roles abdicated by the faineant previous rectors."
Jim Mora; Away With All This Bavardage*; Sunday Star-Times (Auckland, New Zealand); Oct 11, 1998.
* Bavardage = chatter

"There will be a two-year hiatus while Mr O'Reilly does the building work and the notion of what to do while waiting has until recently been downright faineant."
Edward Pearce; Market Garden PS; The Guardian (London, UK); Mar 7, 1995.

X-Bonus

He who establishes his argument by noise and command, shows that his reason is weak. -Michel De Montaigne, essayist (1533-1592)

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