After a few weeks of everyday words with interesting backstories, this time I thought I’d go for one that you probably haven’t come across before (and if you have, then I salute you, and you should probably be writing these instead of me). ‘Fanfaronade’ means empty boasting. And if you do it, which, let’s face it, we all do on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, you’re a fanfaron.

The word comes from ‘fanfarrón’, which is a Spanish word for a big old boasty mcboastface. It made its way into English in the 1600s, probably passing through French (‘fanfaronnade’) on the way.

Fanfaronade is probably where we get the word ‘fanfare’ from, although sources differ on whether there’s any definite etymological evidence for that. But since a fanfare involves a trumpet, and fanfaronade means blowing your own brass instrument, I think it’s a fairly safe bet. (Also, if you say it out loud and go up on the ‘nade’ bit, it even sounds like a fanfare. Or is that just me?)

Dickens used the word ‘fanfaronade’ in place of ‘fanfare’ in a short story called ‘Somebody’s Luggage’ (good name for a band):

“And hark! fanfaronade of trumpets, and here into the Great Place, resplendent in an open carriage, with four gorgeously-attired servitors up behind, playing horns, drums, and cymbals, rolled ‘the Daughter of a Physician’ in massive golden chains and ear-rings, and blue-feathered hat.”