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  • Paul Anthony Jones


(n., adj.) anything showy or impressive; fanciful, absurdly over the top

a puppet show, origin of fanty-sheeny

This pretty unusual word popped up on the Haggard Hawks Twitter feed today:

So here’s a bit more about it. Fanty-sheeny is a dialect word, pinpointed by the English Dialect Dictionary to Devon in the far southwest of England. That being said, it apparently has an etymological cousin at the opposite end of the country in fantoosh, an obscure Scots dialect word meaning “over-dressed”, or “ultra-fashionable”.

Both words are said to derive from fantoccini, an Italian word for string-operated puppets that was parachuted into English in the eighteenth century to refer to the vibrant Italian puppet shows and marionette shows that would have been popular at the time. The word fantoccini itself is often said to mean simply “puppets” or “dolls” in Italian—but its literal and etymological meaning is “little children”, derived as it is from a diminutive form of the Italian fante, meaning “child”.

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