fake & filch

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Tue Feb 15 22:05:14 UTC 2005

fake, as a noun:

This one is kinda neat.
The New-York Gazette & General Advertiser, May 11, 1807, p. 3, col. 2,
printed an announcement of a marriage.  Someone wrote next to
it "wrong: a fake".  And indeed, the next day's paper carried an angry
retraction: if we knew who had imposed on us, he should be publicly

OED has (under noun2, an act of faking, &c.), 1827; as adj., 1775, 1890
(!); HDAS: has 3b, a fals rumor or false story, mid-19th century.

filch, as a noun meaning a thief:
        Last Saturday Darcus, the rascal, who stole his Excellency
Governor Tryon's silver cups as advertised in this paper, was brought
to town from New-Haven, where he was apprehended: this same Filch had
likewise been tolerably successful about the house of our late
commander in chief. . . .
        Rivington's New-York Gazetteer, July 15, 1773, p. 2, cols. 3-4

OED: (noun, sense 3, One who filches or steals: a filcher. Obs.) 1775 &
1810 (only citations); not in HDAS in this sense.
"Filch" is capitalized in this passage, although this paper did not
routinely capitalize all nouns, unlike other mid-century papers.  This
makes me wonder whether the editor had in mind the name of a thievish
character in some play or novel, but I haven't been able to find one,
in a quick check.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

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