Definition of fey
1a chiefly Scotland : fated to die : doomedb : marked by a foreboding of death or calamity another and lesser man … gave a fey lonely warning — Hodding Carter
2a : able to see into the future : visionary Not being fey, he never suspected what it would lead to.b : marked by an otherworldly air or attitude she had that half shy, half fey smile and that birdlike perkiness — A. G. Ogdenc : crazy, touched
3a : excessively refined : precious a fey, self-indulgent dandyb : quaintly unconventional : campy … audiences howl at her off-center delivery of fey folk songs and quaint special material. — Howard Teichmann
fey was our Word of the Day on 05/01/2017. Hear the podcast!
Did You Know?
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.
Origin and Etymology of fey
Middle English feye, from Old English fǣge; akin to Old High German feigi doomed and perhaps to Old English fāh hostile, outlawed — more at foe
First Known Use: before 12th century
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