And now for something a bit lighter …
A colleague tried to use the word furphy in an email today – but complained that he wasn’t sure how it was spelt (furfy, furfee ?), and couldn’t find any references in the dictionary or thesauruses.
I knew what he was trying to say – a furphy is something that is widely held to be true, but is not necessarily so, or indeed something that is blatantly untrue.
I went looking for a real definition, and tried a few combinations, before I came up with several links for furphy…
That last link is the most interesting – explaining where the name came from, and how it came to become an Australian slang term.
TOM COLLINS (1843 – 1912) – aka: JOSEPH FURPHY
A very well known name in Australia is Tom Collins, which in fact was the nom-de-plume of Joseph Furphy.
Born September 26, 1843 at Yering, near Yarra Glen, Victoria, Australia and died September 13, 1912 at Claremont, West Australia
Under the name of Tom Collins, Joseph was a well published Australian author, he was well known under his own name also, so much so that “furphy” became a word in everyday Australian speech, signifying a rumour without foundation. (Joe Furphy was not himself a disseminator of rumours, but the water-carts his firm manufactured, which were in use all over the country and were called furphies, were frequently the meeting-place of gossips.)
So there you go.