Thursday, February 25, 2021

Language Of Confusion: Fabricated, Redux

Yep, going back to the redos. This is another where the quality isn’t up to my current standards. And it’s a nice little breather before we get back into another series!
Fabric showed up in the late fifteenth century meaning… a building. Yes, really. Then in the early seventeenth century it meant a structure of any kind, then something made. Then in the eighteenth century, it went from meaning a manufactured material to a textile in particular. Weird journey, right?
It comes from the Old French fabrique, from the classical Latin fabricare, to fabricate. That’s from faber, which means an architect or someone else who builds something out of hard materials, and it can be traced to the Proto Italic fafro-, from the Proto Indo European dhabh-, which has something to do with crafting. Obviously fabricate is from the same place, having shown up in the mid fifteenth century (so, earlier than fabric). It comes from the classical Latin fabricates, to build or create, and that’s of course from fabricare. These days, fabricate isn’t used a lot in its literal sense. We mostly just use it as a synonym for lie, which actually started being used in 1779.
Now, that’s the original words I went over, but there’s actually more to look at that I never added to the last one. Might as well do it now. The word forge actually comes from the same place as fabric. It showed up in the early fourteenth century as a verb meaning to counterfeit, not meaning to forge metal until the late fourteenth century, and that probably came around because people would forge coins—like, real money, not fake money. It didn’t mean making fake money until after. Confusing, right? Anyway! Forge comes from the Old French forgier, which comes from the classical Latin fabricari, to create or construct, and that’s obviously related to fabric.
So that’s why forgery means what it does. Fabric has quite a history, doesn’t it?
Online Etymology Dictionary
Google Translate
University of Texas at Austin Linguistic Research Center
University of Texas at San Antonio’s page on Proto Indo European language
Indo-European and Uralic Languages


  1. It once meant a building? Now that is a strange journey.

  2. Considering some of the fabric used in some of the fashions of the time, I can see how fabric came from building. Sort of.

  3. I guess they made that out of whole cloth.
    Or something.

  4. You would think that forging metal would have much older roots than forging checks.


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