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Oscar Wilde's "Fan"

Posted by Joe on January 07, 2009 at 17:09

In Reply to: 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.

Oscar Wilde: John Sloaný - Page 106
by John Sloan - Literary Criticism - 2003 - 225 pages

The original title for Lady Windermere's Fan - 'A Good Woman' - was changed at
the request of George Alexander,
The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-century Irish Dramaý - Page 113
by Shaun Richards - Performing Arts - 2004 - 287 pages

This style is signalled most clearly by Lady Windermere's fan itself, ... her
husband and child and 'the real meaning of that - fatal fan of mine'(42o).

So I'd say just a coincidence that developed as
The Imperial Dictionary of the English Language By John Ogilvie does not give in that era "fan" as a fanatic fan, but fan did mean as to excite any passion or emotion and that Wilde would have know. I can only find "fan" as used today to 1903-6. Perhaps one 1899 so who knows but these are all American baseball fan usages.