The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is farce. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.
What It Means
A farce is a ridiculous act, proceeding, or situation. Farce can also refer to a light dramatic work marked by satirical comedy and improbable plot, or the broad humor characteristic of such. The word can also refer to a savory stuffing.
// “The company’s guarantee is a farce,” she complained. “The replacement they sent broke even more quickly than the original.”
// The award-winning actor has a talent for farce.
FARCE in Context
“It seems absurd that [Manchester United manager Erik] Ten Hag, after only a matter of weeks in charge, could be under such scrutiny despite being parachuted into a situation not of his making, but many fans would argue that the club has long since descended into farce.” — Rob Dawson, ESPN.com, 18 Aug. 2022
Did You Know?
From Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, many of us are familiar with farce in its dramatic sense. However, when farce first appeared in English, it had to do with cookery, not comedy. In the 14th century, English adopted farce from Middle French with its original meaning of “forcemeat“—that is, a highly seasoned, minced meat or fish often served as a stuffing. In the 16th century, English imported the word again, this time to refer to a kind of knockabout comedy already popular in France. French farce had its origins in the 13th-century practice of “stuffing” Latin church texts with explanatory phrases. By the 15th century, a similar practice of inserting unscripted buffoonery into religious plays had arisen. Such farces—which included clowning, acrobatics, reversal of social roles, and indecency—soon developed into a distinct dramatic genre and spread rapidly in various forms throughout Europe.
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