Thursday 7 April 2011


This is a repost from last year, but it's strangely appropriate.

Fangast means fit for marriage. It's an utterly obsolete bit of Norfolk dialect whose origins are chronically befogged. Nobody knows the word any more and for that reason it could be terribly useful. Suppose that your girlfriend* were to discover that you had drawn up a table of all your female acquaintances and next to each name had written "marriage material" or "not marriage material", she'd flip her proverbial lid. But "fangast" and "not fangast" - unless she's a time-traveller from ancient Norfolk you're in the clear.

If just one other friend knows the word then the two of you can discuss whether somebody is fangast in front of their face with no danger of discovery: "Have you met my new girlfriend? She's so pretty, and not at all fangast."
"Nothing, darling, nothing."

Incidentally, the earliest reference to the word fangast is by the Inky Fool's favourite essayist, Thomas Browne.


*Or boyfriend, mistress, sugar-daddy, insignificant other, bearded-lady etc et bloody c.


  1. Albany Fonblanque25 February 2010 at 18:16

    I am astounded that I have never visited this blog before. It is wonderful. I shall therefore request and require those of my friends who use the internet to place a bookmark.

  2. That's very kind of you. I've always loved the phrase "request and require".

  3. Albany, my sentiments exactly. This blog has become a habit, like my morning coffee drinking.

  4. Hello from Iceland. I have recently discovered your blog and find it very interesting and enjoy reading about theses obscure words which you find. Keep up the good work!
    Fangast - fit for marriage. This made me laugh as in Icelandic the verb fanga means to capture or handfanga means to arrest someone. A fangi (prisoner) is held in a fangelsi (prison). An ironic link to marriage :)
    Thinking about it though the word √°stfang or to be √°stfanginn means to be in love so there's a very close link.
    Born and bred in London, I find it fun to discover links between Icelandic, which is Old Norse essentially(Norwegian of a 1000yrs ago), and English.

  5. Dear Darri,

    I find the link between kidnapping and marriage utterly convincing. There are a lot of dialect survivals of viking words, and abduction was once a favoured method. I think we have a mystery solved.

  6. But where o where you teasing Inky Fool will i exactly find the word 'Fangast' in Sir Tommy Browne's works ? May as well claim the word 'transvestite' can be found in Dicken's novels.

  7. Hydrotaphia, Simply click upon the words "earliest reference" and you'll be taken there.