Draw your swords and get ready for today’s Wacky Word Wednesday, a weekly celebration of the wackiest and most interesting words from around the world!
Here is the definition of today’s wacky word courtesy of TermWiki.com:
a flaw or defect in character; a weakness; the weakest part of a sword’s blade, located near the point
This word began appearing in the 1640s to mean the “weak point of a sword blade,” the portion closest to the tip of the sword. Foible comes from the French word faible, meaning “weak,” the Old French feble meaning “feeble” and the Latin flebilis, which also means feeble.
In addition to the two definitions stated above, foible can also be used to define a quirk, idiosyncrasy, or unusual habit, a flawed characteristic in personality. The definition of foible was extended to incorporate this meaning in the 1670s.
Most people know the word forte (pronounced “fohrt-tey”) as an individual’s strong point, the area in which they excel. Another definition of forte means the strongest part of the blade. This effectively makes forte the antonym of foible, in both senses of the word. An image of a sword with its different parts labeled, including the foible and forte, can be found here.
The sword blade is one of the earliest weapons, originating from the dagger. The oldest found sword dates back to 3300 BC in what is present-day Turkey. As a symbol of power, the sword also manifests in one of the world’s oldest games, dating back to , and gradually evolving into what we recognize as modern-day fencing. It is also the longest-running sport of modern Olympics.
In the game of fencing, the objective is to score more points than your opponent. Like all sports, both offense and defense positions are extremely crucial to the game. In fencing, a parry is used to defend a fencer from an attack. According to the Anchorage Fencing Club, “a well-executed parry should take the foible of the attacker’s blade with the forte and/or guard of the defender’s. This provides the greatest control over the opponent’s blade.”
Below are some examples of foible for your reading pleasure:
- “Science is his forte, and omniscience his foible.” – Sydney Smith
- “But to anthropologists, the folks who study manners and mores on faraway shores, until recently it wasn’t at all clear that falling in love is a global foible.” – Newsweek: Isn’t It Romantic?
- “His chief foible was gluttony, and for this grand occasion the confectioner had promised to outdo himself.” – Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine
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