Thursday, October 20, 2011

Funky definitions

'My body stunk but I kept my funk'
– Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells a Story

'The men's toilet is, in at least two senses, funky'
– Restaurant review, Guardian weekend magazine, 15/10/11

The meaning of the word funk has always slightly confused me. The easiest definition is when applied to music: funk music is a style of dance music of US black origin, which would include artists such as James Brown and Funkadelic. But it can also mean a foul odour, a depressed state or a panic. Add a 'y' and you get funky, which may also apply to passionate or soulful music. It can also mean evil-smelling and foul; authentic and earthy; stylish and exciting in an unconventional way; frightened and panicky; or lacking courage and faint-hearted. There are also other slang and specific US or UK definitions.

One of the most difficult words in the English language to precisely define, its first recorded use was in 1784, referring to an old, mouldy cheese. Derived from the Flemish word fonck, meaning disturbed or agitated.

Thanks to the Free Dictionary for most of this. I don't feel much enlightened; more like funky.

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