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Word of the Day : September 29, 2011

factitious

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adjective fak-TISH-us

Definition

1 : produced by humans rather than by natural forces

2 : not natural or genuine : artificial

Examples

Terry had the distinct feeling that her host's British accent was factitious -- part of an act designed to distance him even further from those around him.

"The energy generated here often feels factitious, all show (or show and tell) and little substance." -- From a theater review by Ben Brantley in the New York Times, April 28, 2011



Did You Know?

Like the common words "fact" and "factual," "factitious" ultimately comes from the Latin verb "facere," meaning "to do" or "to make." But in current use, "factitious" has little to do with things factual and true -- in fact, "factitious" often implies the opposite. The most immediate ancestor of "factitious" is the Latin adjective "facticius," meaning "made by art" or "artificial." When English speakers first adopted the word as "factitious" in the 17th century, it meant "produced by human effort or skill" (rather than arising from nature). This meaning gave rise to such meanings as "artificial" and "false" or "feigned."



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