foo·​fa·​raw ˈfü-fə-ˌrȯ How to pronounce foofaraw (audio)
: frills and flashy finery
: a disturbance or to-do over a trifle : fuss

Did you know?

Foofaraw originates in the American West where it has been variously spelled as "fofaraw," "forfarraw," and "froufraw," among other spellings. In writings of the pioneer West, it names the frivolous trinkets, baubles, and gewgaws used in trade. Around the 1930s, the word's more common meaning of a fuss or brouhaha developed-probably from the to-do that showy foofaraw stirred up-and people began to settle on the spelling "foofaraw." Etymologists have speculated that this eye-catching word may have come about from a mishearing of Spanish fanfarrón, meaning "braggart" or "boaster." French froufrou, a word for the rustling of a woman's skirts or showy ornamentation, may have also influenced it, however. Another possible connection is the French expression fou faraud, meaning "foolish dandy."

Examples of foofaraw in a Sentence

the foofaraw that accompanies any big wedding
Recent Examples on the Web For many Americans who don’t celebrate Christmas, sitting out the foofaraw while the whole country conducts Christmas consumption is an annual dose of alienation. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, 23 Nov. 2020 No foofaraw: Of course a cleric—in Chih’s case, one who belongs to a holy order tasked with traveling the land and collecting stories—wouldn’t concern themself with gender. Wired Staff, Wired, 29 Sep. 2020 What was Anne Boleyn up to while this whole Charles Brandon foofaraw was happening in England? Anne Thériault, Longreads, 25 May 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'foofaraw.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

1848, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of foofaraw was in 1848


Dictionary Entries Near foofaraw

Cite this Entry

“Foofaraw.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!