[ foo-fuh-raw ]
/ ˈfu fəˌrɔ /
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a great fuss or disturbance about something very insignificant.
an excessive amount of decoration or ornamentation, as on a piece of clothing, a building, etc.
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Origin of foofaraw

First recorded in 1845–50; originally a regional word on the western frontier of the U.S.; further etymology uncertain; possibly from Spanish fanfarrón, a noun and adjective meaning “braggart, boaster” (perhaps from Arabic farfār “talkative”); perhaps also from French fanfaron, a noun and adjective with the same meanings as the Spanish, the French dialect form fanfarou perhaps also having contributed
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


Where does foofaraw come from?

A foofaraw is either “a great fuss about something insignificant” or “an excessive amount of decoration.”

Etymologists think the word, which evidence now suggests is recorded in the American West in the mid-1800s, is based on the French fanfaron, “boastful,” and Spanish fanfarrón, “vain, arrogant.” These words are apparently meant to sound “showy,” like a fanfare.

Many more amusing Americanisms await in our slideshow “These Wacky Words Originated In The USA.”

Did you know … ?

Foofaraw’s notion of making a big deal out of something insignificant is similar to the expression make a mountain out of a molehill. And foofaraw’s sense of excessive decoration can be conveyed using the noun forms of such adjectives as garish, gaudy, or ostentatious.

And if you’re looking for more synonyms for foofaraw, make some commotion or fuss on Thesaurus.com. Flaunt your vocab; we don’t think it’s showy. (See what we did there?)