browse words by letter
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
foo

more about foo

foo


  2  definitions  found 
 
  From  Jargon  File  (4.2.3,  23  NOV  2000)  [jargon]: 
 
  foo  /foo/  1.  interj.  Term  of  disgust.  2.  [very  common]  Used 
  very  generally  as  a  sample  name  for  absolutely  anything  esp.  programs 
  and  files  (esp.  scratch  files).  3.  First  on  the  standard  list  of 
  {metasyntactic  variable}s  used  in  syntax  examples.  See  also  {bar}, 
  {baz},  {qux},  {quux},  {corge},  {grault},  {garply},  {waldo},  {fred}, 
  {plugh},  {xyzzy},  {thud}. 
 
  When  `foo'  is  used  in  connection  with  `bar'  it  has  generally 
  traced  to  the  WWII-era  Army  slang  acronym  {FUBAR}  (`Fucked  Up  Beyond 
  All  Repair'),  later  modified  to  {foobar}.  Early  versions  of  the  Jargon 
  File  interpreted  this  change  as  a  post-war  bowdlerization,  but  it  it  now 
  seems  more  likely  that  FUBAR  was  itself  a  derivative  of  `foo'  perhaps 
  influenced  by  German  `furchtbar'  (terrible)  -  `foobar'  may  actually  have 
  been  the  _original_  form 
 
  For  it  seems  the  word  `foo'  itself  had  an  immediate  prewar 
  history  in  comic  strips  and  cartoons.  The  earliest  documented  uses  were 
  in  the  "Smokey  Stover"  comic  strip  popular  in  the  1930s,  which  frequently 
  included  the  word  "foo".  Bill  Holman,  the  author  of  the  strip,  filled 
  it  with  odd  jokes  and  personal  contrivances,  including  other  nonsense 
  phrases  such  as  "Notary  Sojac"  and  "1506  nix  nix".  According  to  the 
  Warner  Brothers  Cartoon  Companion  (http://www.spumco.com/magazine/eowbcc/) 
  Holman  claimed  to  have  found  the  word  foo"  on  the  bottom  of  a  Chinese 
  figurine.  This  is  plausible;  Chinese  statuettes  often  have  apotropaic 
  inscriptions,  and  this  may  have  been  the  Chinese  word  `fu'  (sometimes 
  transliterated  `foo'),  which  can  mean  happiness"  when  spoken  with  the 
  proper  tone  (the  lion-dog  guardians  flanking  the  steps  of  many  Chinese 
  restaurants  are  properly  called  "fu  dogs").  English  speakers'  reception 
  of  Holman's  `foo'  nonsense  word  was  undoubtedly  influenced  by  Yiddish 
  `feh'  and  English  `fooey'  and  `fool'. 
 
  Holman's  strip  featured  a  firetruck  called  the  Foomobile  that  rode 
  on  two  wheels.  The  comic  strip  was  tremendously  popular  in  the  late 
  1930s,  and  legend  has  it  that  a  manufacturer  in  Indiana  even  produced  an 
  operable  version  of  Holman's  Foomobile  According  to  the  Encyclopedia  of 
  American  Comics,  `Foo'  fever  swept  the  U.S.,  finding  its  way  into  popular 
  songs  and  generating  over  500  `Foo  Clubs.'  The  fad  left  `foo'  references 
  embedded  in  popular  culture  (including  a  couple  of  appearances  in  Warner 
  Brothers  cartoons  of  1938-39)  but  with  their  origins  rapidly  forgotten. 
 
  One  place  they  are  known  to  have  remained  live  is  in  the  U.S. 
  military  during  the  WWII  years.  In  1944-45,  the  term  `foo  fighters' 
  was  in  use  by  radar  operators  for  the  kind  of  mysterious  or  spurious 
  trace  that  would  later  be  called  a  UFO  (the  older  term  resurfaced  in 
  popular  American  usage  in  1995  via  the  name  of  one  of  the  better 
  grunge-rock  bands).  Informants  connected  the  term  to  the  Smokey  Stover 
  strip. 
 
  The  U.S.  and  British  militaries  frequently  swapped  slang  terms 
  during  the  war  (see  {kluge}  and  {kludge}  for  another  important  example) 
  Period  sources  reported  that  `FOO'  became  a  semi-legendary  subject  of  WWII 
  British-army  graffiti  more  or  less  equivalent  to  the  American  Kilroy. 
  Where  British  troops  went  the  graffito  "FOO  was  here"  or  something 
  similar  showed  up  Several  slang  dictionaries  aver  that  FOO  probably 
  came  from  Forward  Observation  Officer,  but  this  (like  the  contemporaneous 
  "FUBAR")  was  probably  a  {backronym}  .  Forty  years  later  Paul  Dickson's 
  excellent  book  Words"  (Dell,  1982,  ISBN  0-440-52260-7)  traced  Foo" 
  to  an  unspecified  British  naval  magazine  in  1946,  quoting  as  follows: 
  "Mr.  Foo  is  a  mysterious  Second  World  War  product,  gifted  with  bitter 
  omniscience  and  sarcasm." 
 
  Earlier  versions  of  this  entry  suggested  the  possibility  that 
  hacker  usage  actually  sprang  from  "FOO,  Lampoons  and  Parody",  the  title  of 
  a  comic  book  first  issued  in  September  1958,  a  joint  project  of  Charles 
  and  Robert  Crumb.  Though  Robert  Crumb  (then  in  his  mid-teens)  later 
  became  one  of  the  most  important  and  influential  artists  in  underground 
  comics,  this  venture  was  hardly  a  success;  indeed,  the  brothers  later 
  burned  most  of  the  existing  copies  in  disgust.  The  title  FOO  was 
  featured  in  large  letters  on  the  front  cover.  However,  very  few  copies 
  of  this  comic  actually  circulated,  and  students  of  Crumb's  `oeuvre' 
  have  established  that  this  title  was  a  reference  to  the  earlier  Smokey 
  Stover  comics.  The  Crumbs  may  also  have  been  influenced  by  a  short-lived 
  Canadian  parody  magazine  named  `Foo'  published  in  1951-52. 
 
  An  old-time  member  reports  that  in  the  1959  "Dictionary  of  the 
  TMRC  Language",  compiled  at  {TMRC},  there  was  an  entry  that  went  something 
  like  this: 
 
  FOO:  The  first  syllable  of  the  sacred  chant  phrase  "FOO  MANE  PADME 
  HUM."  Our  first  obligation  is  to  keep  the  foo  counters  turning. 
 
  (For  more  about  the  legendary  foo  counters,  see  {TMRC}.)  This 
  definition  used  Bill  Holman's  nonsense  word  only  then  two  decades  old 
  and  demonstrably  still  live  in  popular  culture  and  slang,  to  a  {ha  ha 
  only  serious}  analogy  with  esoteric  Tibetan  Buddhism.  Today's  hackers 
  would  find  it  difficult  to  resist  elaborating  a  joke  like  that  and  it 
  is  not  likely  1959's  were  any  less  susceptible.  Almost  the  entire  staff 
  of  what  later  became  the  MIT  AI  Lab  was  involved  with  TMRC,  and  the  word 
  spread  from  there 
 
 
 
  From  The  Free  On-line  Dictionary  of  Computing  (13  Mar  01)  [foldoc]: 
 
  foo 
 
    /foo/  A  sample  name  for  absolutely  anything 
  especially  programs  and  files  (especially  {scratch  files}). 
  First  on  the  standard  list  of  {metasyntactic  variables}  used 
  in  {syntax}  examples.  See  also  {bar},  {baz},  {qux},  {quux}, 
  {corge},  {grault},  {garply},  {waldo},  {fred},  {plugh}, 
  {xyzzy},  {thud}. 
 
  The  etymology  of  foo"  is  obscure.  When  used  in  connection 
  with  bar"  it  is  generally  traced  to  the  WWII-era  Army  slang 
  acronym  {FUBAR},  later  bowdlerised  to  {foobar}. 
 
  However,  the  use  of  the  word  foo"  itself  has  more  complicated 
  antecedents,  including  a  long  history  in  comic  strips  and 
  cartoons. 
 
  FOO"  often  appeared  in  the  "Smokey  Stover"  comic  strip  by 
  Bill  Holman.  This  surrealist  strip  about  a  fireman  appeared 
  in  various  American  comics  including  "Everybody's"  between 
  about  1930  and  1952.  FOO  was  often  included  on  licence  plates 
  of  cars  and  in  nonsense  sayings  in  the  background  of  some 
  frames  such  as  "He  who  foos  last  foos  best"  or  "Many  smoke  but 
  foo  men  chew". 
 
  Allegedly,  FOO"  and  BAR"  also  occurred  in  Walt  Kelly's 
  Pogo"  strips.  In  the  1938  cartoon  "The  Daffy  Doc",  a  very 
  early  version  of  Daffy  Duck  holds  up  a  sign  saying  "SILENCE  IS 
  FOO!".  Oddly,  this  seems  to  refer  to  some  approving  or 
  positive  affirmative  use  of  foo.  It  has  been  suggested  that 
  this  might  be  related  to  the  Chinese  word  fu"  (sometimes 
  transliterated  "foo"),  which  can  mean  happiness"  when  spoken 
  with  the  proper  tone  (the  lion-dog  guardians  flanking  the 
  steps  of  many  Chinese  restaurants  are  properly  called  "fu 
  dogs"). 
 
  Earlier  versions  of  this  entry  suggested  the  possibility  that 
  hacker  usage  actually  sprang  from  "FOO,  Lampoons  and  Parody", 
  the  title  of  a  comic  book  first  issued  in  September  1958,  a 
  joint  project  of  Charles  and  Robert  Crumb.  Though  Robert 
  Crumb  (then  in  his  mid-teens)  later  became  one  of  the  most 
  important  and  influential  artists  in  underground  comics,  this 
  venture  was  hardly  a  success;  indeed,  the  brothers  later 
  burned  most  of  the  existing  copies  in  disgust.  The  title  FOO 
  was  featured  in  large  letters  on  the  front  cover.  However, 
  very  few  copies  of  this  comic  actually  circulated,  and 
  students  of  Crumb's  oeuvre"  have  established  that  this  title 
  was  a  reference  to  the  earlier  Smokey  Stover  comics. 
 
  An  old-time  member  reports  that  in  the  1959  "Dictionary  of  the 
  TMRC  Language",  compiled  at  {TMRC}  there  was  an  entry  that 
  went  something  like  this: 
 
  FOO:  The  first  syllable  of  the  sacred  chant  phrase  "FOO  MANE 
  PADME  HUM."  Our  first  obligation  is  to  keep  the  foo  counters 
  turning. 
 
  For  more  about  the  legendary  foo  counters,  see  {TMRC}.  Almost 
  the  entire  staff  of  what  became  the  {MIT}  {AI  LAB}  was 
  involved  with  TMRC,  and  probably  picked  the  word  up  there 
 
  Another  correspondant  cites  the  nautical  construction 
  "foo-foo"  (or  "poo-poo"),  used  to  refer  to  something 
  effeminate  or  some  technical  thing  whose  name  has  been 
  forgotten,  e.g.  "foo-foo  box",  "foo-foo  valve".  This  was 
  common  on  ships  by  the  early  nineteenth  century. 
 
  Very  probably,  hackish  foo"  had  no  single  origin  and  derives 
  through  all  these  channels  from  Yiddish  feh"  and/or  English 
  "fooey". 
 
  [{Jargon  File}] 
 
  (1998-04-16) 
 
 




more about foo