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October 17, 2019

Word of the Day: Factitious

2 CQ

Word of the Day : January 6, 2017

factitious \fak-TISH-us\ adjective


1 : produced by humans rather than by natural forces

2 a : formed by or adapted to an artificial or conventional standard

b : produced by special effort : sham


"For all the factitious factoids about state education spending, the reality from the federal government and even the nation's largest teachers union is that Pennsylvania far outspends most states—and by a comfortable margin." — The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 24 June 2016

"Brucie's worsening situation, like many events in Sweat's early scenes, is a harbinger of bad economic times that ultimately afflict all the characters. Nottage takes her time, piling up the details carefully and compassionately; Kate Whoriskey's direction keeps the action taut without any factitious pressuring." — Michael Feingold, The Village Voice, 9 Nov. 2016

Did You Know?

Like the common words fact and factual, factitious ultimately comes from the Latin verb facere, meaning "to do" or "to make." But in current use, factitious has little to do with things factual and true—in fact, factitious often implies the opposite. The most immediate ancestor of factitious is the Latin adjective facticius, meaning "made by art" or "artificial." When English speakers first adopted the word as factitious in the 17th century, it meant "produced by human effort or skill" (rather than arising from nature). This meaning gave rise to such meanings as "artificial" and "false" or "feigned."

Aired January 6, 2017

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