Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Fancy" is too fancy for me. Archaic, too

In the past I've complained about old-fashioned words like "dungarees," "radio car," and "tennis shoes" which sometimes pop up in 21st-century conversation and writing.

One particularly quaint term that should have been put to sleep before the dawn of the 20th century is "fancy."

I'm not talking about the basic adjective meaning the opposite of "plain," i.e., decorated or ornamental.

And I don't mind uses such as "fancy foods," meaning high quality victuals, er... food.

What I can't stand is when the word is used to imply liking something. (Maybe it's related to being a "fan.")

If I close my eyes, I can visualize scenes in TV and movie westerns. A thirsty and dusty cowpoke dismounts from and ties up his horse in front of a saloon. He goes inside and walks up to the bar. The bartender says, "Howdy, stranger, what'll it be."

The cowboy responds, "I've been on the trail for a week and have a powerful thirst." The helpful bartender says, "How about a tall, cool Sarsaparilla? We just got a barrel from back east."

The cowboy dismisses the suggestion with, "I don't fancy that. Gimme something stronger!"

One of the dumbest magazine names is Dog Fancy. It has a feline companion called Cat Fancy. Strangely, the mags were recently modernized and the unfashionable "Fancy" was   significantly reduced in size. More recently, "Fancy" has come back to full-size. WTF?

I encountered what has to be the absolutely worse use of the term at an "Inventors Show" at the New York Coliseum in 1970. Various scientists, engineers, dreamers and lunatics paid to rent space to display what they though might change the world and make them rich.

One guy was showing some experimental hi-fi equipment. His business card had his name, and the ancient and redundant phrase "Fancier in Audio Sound."

Fancy that.

Saloon illustration from http://fineartamerica.com/featured/saloon-keeper-valerian-ruppert.html

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