Word of the Day: facetious
Facetious (adjective) fuh-SEE-shuss
1 : joking or jesting often inappropriately : waggish
2 : meant to be humorous or funny : not serious
“My proposal to tax estates heavily is neither entirely serious nor wholly facetious.” — Martha Viehmann, The Cincinnati (Ohio) Enquirer, 17 Aug. 2016
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a garbage man. I’m not being facetious or silly…. As a four-year-old, my room window faced the street, and I remember being mesmerized by these wild guys waking me up twice a week. They were raucous and loud, they yelled and threw things around with reckless abandon, they dangerously climbed on and hung off a large moving vehicle….” — Andy Nulman, quoted in The Globe and Mail, 11 Sept. 2016
Did You Know?
Facetious—which puzzle fans know is one of the few English words containing the vowels a, e, i, o, u in order—came to English from the Middle French word facetieux, which traces to the Latin word facetia, meaning “jest.” Facetia seems to have made only one other lasting contribution to the English language: facetiae, meaning “witty or humorous writings or sayings.” Facetiae, which comes from the plural of facetia and is pronounced \fuh-SEE-shee-ee\ or \fuh-SEE-shee-eye\, is a far less common word than facetious, but it does show up occasionally. For example, American essayist Louis Menand used it in his 2002 book American Studies to describe the early days of The New Yorker. “The New Yorker,” he wrote, “started as a hectic book of gossip, cartoons, and facetiae.”
I try to be humorous in my everyday life, at least when it is appropriate. It’s one reason my girlfriend loves me. Yet, there are days when she is sure that I’m being facetious. Take, for example, the times when she is feeling under the weather, and I try to make light of the situation. I’ll say something that in my mind is light-hearted and candid. Unfortunately, I am amazed at how often she takes exception to my feeble attempt to cheer her up. I see it time and time again, yet I’ll never learn. It’s part of my nature. Sorry honey.
In my research on the word, I found that a century ago, facetious had a very different meaning, ‘urbane or well-mannered.’ It got me thinking. So many of the words I am learning by doing these Words of the Day used to have very different meanings, either decades ago or centuries ago. I find that intriguing. It means that the human race is ever changing. We are not stagnant and dying. It gives me hope for the future. How about you? What do you think?
My bonus picture, available if you share this post by clicking one of the twitter buttons, is especially pertinent to today’s word. It’s sexy, and it’s particularly funny. My gift to you for sharing.