Definition of fey
- another and lesser man … gave a fey lonely warning
- —Hodding Carter
- Not being fey, he never suspected what it would lead to.
- she had that half shy, half fey smile and that birdlike perkiness
- —A. G. Ogden
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These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fey.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Fey is a word that defies its own meaning, since it has yet to even come close to the brink of death after being in our language for well over 800 years. In Old and Middle English it meant "feeble" or "sickly." Those meanings turned out to be fey themselves, but the word lived on in senses related to death, and because a wild or elated state of mind was once believed to portend death, other senses arose from these. The word fay, meaning "fairy" or "elf," may also have had an influence on some senses of "fey." Not until the late 20th century did the word's most recent meanings, "precious" and "campy," find their way onto the pages of the dictionary.
What made you want to look up fey? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
having a quality expressive of sadness
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