Many many moons ago, well before I discovered (for that matter, well before my daughter was born…I believe I was in college…) I was writing a story in which the heroine accused the hero of being a fanatic about football. He replied that he was merely a fan. Her response?

“Where do you think fan comes from? It’s a shortening of fanatic.”

I totally made that up. It made sense to me, but I didn’t actually, you know, look it up. But as it happens…I love it when I’m right. 😉

Fan, with the meaning of “devotee,” appeared in English round about 1889 in America, in reference to baseball fans, and there are two possible sources. The first is indeed fanatic, and etymologists think it the most likely explanation. But it may have also been influenced by fancy, which could apparently mean a collective group of followers of a sport of hobby, especially boxing.

Still trying to wrap my head around a “boxing fancy.” Does not compute, LOL. But apparently it was used in such a way since 1735!

So what are you a fan of? (I ask, wondering if chocolate and coffee count…)

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