phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Oscar Wilde's "Fan"

Posted by James Curran on January 07, 2009 at 15:30

In present-day usage, the word "Fan" has two meanings: a hand-held air-conditioning device; and a supporter (short for "Fanatic"). This leads to a question about Oscar Wilde's play "Lady Windermere's Fan". In the play, Lady W. had one of each type of fan.

The question is, did Wilde plan this double-entendre, or is it just a coincidence that developed as the meaning of the word evolved over the last century?

The OED cites "fan" first being used in the matter meaning, just about the time Wilde wrote the plan, but it's hard to judge from that how commonplace the usage was.