Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fench (for French)

Pardon my Fench—which is how I initially spelled the word French in yesterday's blog entry. It was some time after posting it that I was chagrined to note the error, but I figured (rightly) that if I had made that mistake, others probably had too. I found 18 occurrences of Fench in OhioLINK, including one misspelled surname and one typo for fence ("Don't Fench Me In"). According to the Urban Dictionary, a fench is a "paradoxical act of aggression—as a fench is entirely unprovoked, any retribution won't serve as due revenge, because the revenge was provoked by the fench. No prior warning can be given to the victim, and a fench cannot be used as a threat, because these both imply provocation of some sort—a fench must be an act of wanton, spontaneous violence. In other words, an act of aggression so successful that full revenge is impossible." I'm not sure I know exactly what that definition means, but I definitely know I don't want to be fenched! Though not without its elements of provocation and revenge, the case of the legendary Chevalier Macaire is one of the most infamous of French murders.

(Statue of Macaire and the canine witness who testified against him at trial, by Gustave Debrie, 1870.)

Carol Reid

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