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: [1]. --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:
  1. 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).
  2. 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".
  3. Thereafter, some people started to use it to mean "fake", while others continue to use it to mean "broken".
- -sche (discuss) 04:40, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
The military sense is just barely attested; it passes RFV. The other senses fail RFV. I have kept the one quotation of the "fake" sense on the Citations page. - -sche (discuss) 18:19, 6 June 2012 (UTC)

Italian etymology: fugace?Edit

As an Italian I think that the Italian etymology you are looking for is the word "fugace", which English-speaking people could easily pronounce /fuɡɑzi/. The meaning is more or less "short-living", something that easily disappears, so it has something to do with the English meaning of fugazi. There is no regional variant of Italian language in which the word would be pronounced or written "fugazi", but English-speaking people would probably pronounce the word "fugace" like that (/fuɡɑzi/ instead of /fuɡat͡ʃe/). So I think it comes from an Italian word pronounced by non-Italian people, then written in a different way, more similar to the new pronounciation. Ittidu (talk) 17:15, 12 March 2015 (UTC)

Might be a simple answerEdit

The NY limo company origin seems most plausible to me. TV and radio ads for Fugazy Limousine took their place in the 70s local ad pantheon, alongside spots for The Ritz Thrift Shop, The Circle Line, The Money Store, Crazy Eddie, and "What's the Story, Jerry." I can picture that-ain't-his-real-limo applied to other things that aren't what they appear.

There are two famous business families with this name. Fugazi in San Francisco, banking and more recently music, and Fugazy, East Coast, car rentals
The Vietnam war term first appeared in Nam by Mark Baker, published 1981 (this is where the band got it from) defined as "fugazi - fucked up or screwed up.". Zipped in is not in the book's definition. I haven't been able to find any other evidence of this word being used before this book other than as a surname. Whereas there is plenty of evidence of snafu and fubar being used.
It is most likely a mishearing of fou gas
I am sure everyone remembers the scene from the Green Berets (the John Wayne movie), where the VC are storming the A-Team camp. Just as a group of the Cong reach the perimeter, one of the Americans says: "Hit the Foo Gas!". His buddy unleashed it and a napalm style fire storm seemed to erupt from the ground around the fence. When the flames started to clear, you could then see flaming bodies hanging in the wire.

flame fougasse, foo gas:
Thickened fuel (eg jellied gasoline, soap+gasoline) was also used in defensive devices such as the flame trench and the flame fougasse. The former was a trench dug to a depth of 1 to 2 feet and filled with thickened fuel after a layer of det-chord and a number of 2-1/2 pound blocks of C-4 had been placed in the trench. The det-chord was connected to the charger from a claymore mine. The flame fougasse was a 55-gallon drum into which a single block of C-4 was placed in the bottom wrapped with det-chord. The det-chord was then wrapped around the top of the drum, just below the lid, and than connected to a claymore charger. The drum was filled with thickened fuel. When detonated, the device threw burning fuel about 50 meters at an attacking enemy. These were used extensively at fixed installations in Vietnam, especially small, isolated facilities such as pump stations. QuentinUK (talk) 00:53, 15 June 2015 (UTC)
Return to "fugazi" page.