Slang word fugazi/fugazy meaning fake
Posted: 19 December 2013 01:52 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve been hearing people use the word “fugazi” (fuh-GAY-zee) to mean “fake” for a while now.  A quick Google search turns up a use in the 1997 movie Donnie Brasco.  Since it’s Italian-sounding and I’m from New Jersey, I lean toward thinking it started as a New York thing and it achieved a wider usage because of Donnie Brasco.  Has anyone heard this slang term, and does anyone have any information as to its origin?  Thanks…

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Posted: 19 December 2013 02:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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There are plenty of theories about this going around.

The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional English has a cite from 1980

fugazi adjective
crazy (US, 1980)
Coined during the Vietnam War
“We didn’t know anything was fugazi until we got to a certain place in the South China Sea” Mark Baker, Nam, 1981

Some sites are saying it is a Vietnam era acronym of the FUBAR type: standing for fucked up, got ambushed, zipped in, but that smacks of a backronym, for mine.

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Posted: 20 December 2013 05:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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HDAS has the same first citation, marking it as origin unknown.

My best guess would be that it is a euphemistic variation on fucked up, but not an acronym.

Fugazi is an Italian surname that has lent it’s name to various things in the States, many eponyms for a prominent member of the Italian-American community in the late nineteenth century, including the nationwide Fugazi Travel Agency and the Club Fugazi theater in San Francisco. The existence of the name may have influenced the coinage of the slang word, although I doubt the slang is directly related to anyone of that name.

Added:

I just looked it up in Green’s Dictionary of Slang. It plumps for the acronymic origin: “Fucked Up, Got Ambushed, Zipped In.” I’m highly skeptical. Beyond the usual questioning of acronymic origins, 1980/81 is a very late date for Vietnam slang to begin appearing in print. Google Books turns up nothing from the Vietnam era except magazine ads for the travel agency.

[ Edited: 20 December 2013 05:38 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 20 December 2013 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Even if fuzagi is from an acronym meaning “fucked up” that isn’t the same as “fake”.  If someone said a diamond ring is fubar I would think it got run over by a truck or something, not that it’s fake.

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Posted: 20 December 2013 09:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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It’s definitely another, newer, sense. But I can see a path from “fucked up” to “fake” via “deprecated, bad.”

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Posted: 21 December 2013 07:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I take it that the lexicographers have excluded any connection to Spanish fugaz or Italian fugace = fleeting, transient.  (A semantic shift from “temporary, not long-lasting” to “fake” seems plausible enough, especially when jumping between languages.)

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