Over on w:Talk:Fugazi, doubt's being cast on everything in this entry, particularly: is there an Italian word "fugazi" as the etymology suggests? - -sche(discuss) 07:18, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
No such word (or anything like it) in any Italian dictionary I can find. Italian Wikipedia has an article that cites the supposed Vietnam usage. Needs to go to RfV? SemperBlotto (talk) 07:28, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I am no linguist but I think it's genuine albeit obscure Italian-American (NY-localized) slang derived from some form of the Italian root word "fugare" (something along the lines of avoid or get rid of etc). Since I don't really know anything about Italian grammar, I can't say much more but the Italian section on Wiktionary gives numerous grammatical variations of this word, such as fugassi which does look eerily similar.
Furthermore, the pronunciation of this word in the movies does not in any way sound like the oft-mentioned fugazi but more like fughesi or some such. It just happens to be that somebody off-site mentioned some Neapolitan slang that according to this individual did occur in certain Italian-dominated areas of NY decades ago and went along the lines of "fughesi", which according to this individual was used to describe something fake back then. In other words I think that's it, that it originally stems from standard Italian fugare in some way and that its usage was very limited to a rather small geographical area/demographic group to begin with (possibly Neapolitan immigrants from a distinct region at a distinct time). It seems likely that it never caught on much and fell out of fashion long ago until resurrected in the 1990's by movies such as "Donnie Brasco" (which takes place in the late 1970's and whose script was written by an Italian-American who grew up in the Bronx - Paulie Attanasio).
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RFV of fugazi#English (two senses) and fugazi#Italian... even though the latter doesn't exist. If we can find citations of "fugazi" as an Italian word, then the English word clearly derives from it, but if the Italian word doesn't meet CFI, the English word's etymology section is likely spurious and should be fixed. - -sche(discuss) 06:49, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
As far as Italian goes, it's all about some band by that name and a couple of people with that as a surname: . --Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 04:02, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
You'll probably have to try some other Italian forms, because if it's a noun or adjective, the ending suggests it's a plural. Chuck Entz (talk) 04:21, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
From the publication dates and contexts of the citations I'm finding, things seem to have gone something like this:
The term began to be used in print in the early 1980s; it probably came into use in the 60s or 70s. It may have derived from fugax or fougasse or "fucked up, got ambushed, zipped in", or from something else. (Some terms do begin in the military as acronyms, e.g. FUBAR, but I'm sceptical of this one because "fucked up, got ambushed, zipped in" seems more like a backronym someone fit to the letters than a common phrase someone eventually abbreviated.) The first print uses of the term describe as "fugazi" something that is "in disarray, not as it should be" (as, a person or a situation — although it is also possible to interpet these uses as meaning "fake, not as it seems"); a bit later come print uses of the sense "broken, not working" (as, an object, or a person).
Sometime between the 1980s and 2000, perhaps as a bowlderisation or perhaps as a mistake by people who didn't know but thought it sounded Italian (fugazi! abbazie! idiozie!), it was recast as deriving from an Italian word for "fake".
Thereafter, some people started to use it to mean "fake", while others continue to use it to mean "broken".