A word so short, like the brief candle that is life: a waking dream, a magical glimmer, a will-o’-the-wisp in the expanse of eternity. We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep. Life’s but a waking dream, and then… to sleep, perchance to dream… again. All of existence is perhaps a fevered fantasy of phantasms on a midsummer night. A fata morgana, perhaps. But what has all this to do with fey? ‘Tis fate, surely. To the old English, fæge meant “fated to die,” as fey can still mean today. More often, we use it to refer to a mystical, ethereal, otherworldly, fairy-like quality. This may be because of the giddiness attributed to those near death, but it no doubt is also because of fay, which comes from fae, which means “fairy” and like fairy is descended from faie, “person or place possessed of magical qualities,” which in its turn traces back to Latin fata, “fate.” It was a fated convergence. And the word opens with a puff of breath from teeth and lip and then fades away with a narrowing vowel, and is gone. Many today, on seeing this word, may think first of a famous TV face: Tina Fey. Although an accomplished comedienne with a following a decade long, she burst into the greater limelight by a twist of fate: a surprising resemblance to a politician whose abrupt elevation to high candidacy seemed quite out of the ordinary earthly run of things. But feh! That arctic charwoman (not au fait, just ofay) would pale in comparison to a true fey.
Get a premium subscriptionSupport Sesquiotica with a paid subscription and get extra premium content and goodies. Starts as low as $1 a month! Find out more and subscribe on Patreon.com
I am for hireI earn my living as an independent editor, writer, and educator. Find out more and contact me at jamesharbeck.com.
Buy the T-shirt (or coffee mug or hip flask)
Wear it proudly:
I operate on a NEED-TO-KNOW basis. I need to know EVERYTHING.
Buy it at cafepress.ca/sesquiphernalia
Buy my books
Word Tasting Notes Google groupGet just the word tasting notes daily by email – join the Google Word Tasting Notes group.