I was actually going to talk about the word “fiance,” and how it entered (or perhaps re-entered after British folks stopped speaking French in the middle ages) English surprisingly late, but I mis-typed, got curious, and discovered that “fiasco” is way more interesting, LOL.
So. The definition of “fiasco” is failure. It began as a theater term for an onstage flop in 1855, but since we’re always looking for new ways to describe our blunders, it only took 7 years for this word to transcend the fourth wall and make it into the speech of the audience.
Its roots, however, are mysterious. In Italian, “fiasco” means bottle. So, um . . . what does that have to do with a failure of epic proportions?? The OED makes vague references to long-forgotten theater incidents in Italy (bottle over the head, maybe?), but the compilers of www.etymonline.com found a far more likely reason in an Italian dictionary. There they found fare il fiasco, the notion of a game in which the loser is expected to buy the next bottle (of wine). So the mistake causing the loss–a costly mistake, one might say–could easily have earned the shout of “fiasco!”
Works for me. 😉
As a side note, tomorrow is my 500th blog post, so I’m going to be cooking up a fantabulous giveaway of some sort. =) See ya then!
Interesting, I've never thought about this word.
I've asked a few here in Italy, but nobody knows this game – nor where that meaning of "fare fiasco" comes from.
So I searched online. etymonline.com also mentions OED (self reference?) making nebulous reference to "alleged incidents in Italian theatrical history." On a couple of italian sites, there's indeed such an explanation.
Have Google translate cosedicasa.noiblogger.com/si-dice%E2%80%A6fare-fiasco/, which is the most specific:
"This expression is associated with an actor from Bologna named Dominique (1636-1688) known as Domenico Biancolelli. He was a famous interpreter of Harlequin in the Comedy dell'Arte but…, one day Dominique invented a monologue which was about a fiasco bottle, but did not make anyone laugh. It was a failure, and so "The Fiasco" was associated with the failure of a show, then by extension became synonymous with failure."
See, you made me think 🙂 Thanks for this post.