Monday, November 20, 2006

The Daily Hump: Farce

NPR reports this morning that some watchdog groups are criticizing the Saddam Hussein trial as a farce. This usage mirrors OED's n.2 definition:
Something as ridiculous as a theatrical farce; a proceeding that is ludicrously futile or insincere; a hollow pretence, a mockery.
The word originally comes to us from the Latin farcīre, meaning "to stuff". In the 13th c. the latinized farsa, farsia was used in both English and French to refer to words and phrases used to "pad out" interludes or interpolations in liturgical texts. Shortly thereafter, the Old French farce evolved to mean "interludes of impromptu buffoonery" which were ad-libbed by actors in religious dramas. The transition to the modern sense is thus obvious.

And just in time for Thanksgiving, there still exists a verb form which retains the original Latin sense and means "to stuff", as for roasting. The noun farce can also means "stuffing". And you may have heard the word forcemeat, which is finely ground, spiced meat that is generally used as stuffing. The first element, force-, comes from the same Latin root as farce.

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:: posted by David, 8:08 AM


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