phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Glad to be Fey

Posted by Lewis on June 05, 2006

In Reply to: The Fey Knights posted by Smokey Stover on June 04, 2006

: : : : : : : : In Reply to: Feign Knights posted by David FG on January 04, 2005

: : : : : : : : I too was wondering about this a couple of years ago. We used 'Fay knights' in the South London area when I was a kid (I accept that 'Feign Knights' is probably far more likely as an origin, whatever that means!)but friends from North London have no idea what I'm on about!
: : : : : : : : Interestingly though about a year ago I was watching an early episode of Fools & Horses and Del did something to Rodney and immediately held up crossed fingers and claimed 'Fay Nites!'.
: : : : : : : : Great relief, I hadn't imagined it after all!
: : : : : : : : If anyone has any idea of the origin please let me know, it sounds like old English to me but who knows?!!

: : : : : : : Really WAG (wild *ss guess) here, but after reading the previous discussion:
: : : : : : :
: : : : : : : I was wondering if "feign I" could be related to something like "playing dead - ignore me"? But what would I know -- we used to say "king's X" when I was a kid.

: : : : : : I think it should be 'fain...I' as in forfend, fain would I - 'fain' used as in compelled - perhaps it is a contraction for "fain, not I" or "you are prohibited from choosing me".

: : : : : : that is my WAG, but it does have some root.

: : : : : : L

: : : : : In New York, 50+ years ago, it was "fins." No clue as to origin.

: : : : There's a pretty good discussion in the Archives under Feign knights. The issues of original spelling and original meaning do not seem resolvable, barring some persuasive voice from the grave. As to fain, it can indeed mean compelled or obliged, but more often, as an adjectice, means rejoiced, glad, well-pleased, disposed, inclined, eager. It is also used adverbially with similar meanings. But the original word may not be fain, making this part of the discussion entirely nugatory. SS

: : : I was only stabbing through the arrass with 'fain'. Not an easy one to resolve.

: : : FIN is easy - is it not yer actual French for 'done'?
: : : over.
: : : finis.

: : : L
: : "Fainights" and other truce terms were discussed on this board in July 2005 or thereabouts under the heading "Crosskeys". The basic source text for British schoolchildren's truce terms is Peter and Iona Opie's great book Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, published in 1959. The Opies found a huge variety of "truce terms" in use in the 1950s, including a whole group - vains, fains, fainites, fanlights, fainsies, fennits, fans, fainies, vainlights and vainyards - based on the medieval English phrase "fain I" meaning "I decline", from old French "se feindre" meaning "to make excuses, hang back, back away from a fight". This derivation was first put forward by J R R Tolkien (whose day job was course was Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford) who noted in this context a line in Chaucer "lordes heestes mowe nat be y-feyned" meaning "lords' orders cannot be answered with a 'fain I' [but must be obeyed]". (VSD)

: Like Victoria (whose reappearance online is noted with pleasure), I remembered that there was a previous discussion, but I could not remember under what rubric. The discussion then was rather baffling to me, since this sort of time-out in children's games is little used on the Western shore. There's a good discussion in the OED under "fain, v.2," of which I'll quote only the beginning. "Chiefly School slang, orig. dial.
: = FEN v.2 Used in the expression fains or fain(s I, fain it, fainit(e)s: see quots.
: 1870 N. & Q. 4th Ser. VI. 415/2 'Fains', or 'Fain it'{em}A term demanding a 'truce' during the progress of any game, which is always granted by the opposing party. Ibid. 517/1 A boy who had 'killed' anoth er at marbles, that is hit his marble, would call out 'Fain it', meaning 'You mustn't shoot at me in return'; or if a boy was going to shoot, and some inequality of surface was in his way, which he would have cleared away, his antagonist would prevent him by calling out 'Fain clears'. Ibid. 517/2 If a prefect wants anything fetched for him and does not say by whom, those who wish to get off going say 'Fain I'. 1889 BARRERE & LELAND Dict. Slang, Faints [sic], in vogue among schoolboys to express a wish temporarily to withdraw from participation in the particular sport or game being played...."
: SS

I would like to thank the subsequent posters who gave authority for my 'fain I' interpretation.
Sometimes a stab through the arrass connects, which of course increases the cleaning bills.
An elderly friend of mine had Tolkien as her college tutor, so he really did have a day job. She also has C S Lewis. Which was nice.
You'd hardly get G K Rowling and Dan Brown keeping up "day jobs" like that, would you?