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This is a Wednesday’s Wonderful Words post, in which I chose a word, well-know or otherwise, and discuss why I think it’s so wonderful.

Before I begin the post, I’d like to take a quick poll. Without reading any further, can you tell me:

Fandango

[fænˈdæŋgoʊ]

noun, plural fandangos.
1. A lively Spanish or Spanish-American dance in triple time, performed by a man and woman playing castanets.
2. A piece of music for such a dance or one having its rhythm.
3. (Especially in the south west U.S.) a ball or dance.

Etymology

c.1750, lively Spanish dance, of unknown origin [OED says “alleged to be of negro origin”], perhaps related to fado (attested in Eng. from 1902), a popular music style of Portugal, from L. fatum “fate, destiny.” Fado is lovely, but not lively, so perhaps the link, if any, is thematic. But the late date argues against it.

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The reason I’m writing my Wonderful Words post on the word fandango is because a house near where I work in France is called Fandango.

When I saw this, I rushed home full of giggles, and made a funny quip in a facebook status, and then looked the word up.

A word I have only ever used as an insult or euphemism is actually the name of a Latin-American dance.

… Sorry, what?

Regardless (or perhaps because of this) fandango is an amazing word.

It’s very evocative: it sounds lively and passionate.

Repeated [æŋ] sounds and plosives (consonants where you build up air and release it, like [f]) make it a slightly amusing word, which makes it amazing for using as a half-hearted, joking insult or an amusing euphemism.

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