What’s a farrago?

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Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: farrago…

I thought I knew the word farragoe but it turns out the only word I knew was fargo, as in the name of the 1996 comedy thriller written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.

Thus, I was momentarily puzzled when I discovered the somewhat similar word in Lee Israel’s very funny memoir about her life as a literary forger, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (You may be familiar with the title as a result of the relatively recent movie based on the book, starring Melissa McCarthy.)

Here’s how Israel used the term in her book:

I cobbled together farragoes, taking paragraphs from several letters, then mixing and matching, changing the prose only slightly.

It turns out that a farragoe is a confused mixture of something — much like the confusion of Lego pictured at the top of this post. Hodgepodge, mishmash, ragbag, pot-pourri, jumble, patchwork, melange, assortment, miscellany, mixture, conglomeration and medley are all considered to be synonyms.

The etymology of the word is straightforward. It comes from Latin for grain, far and farrago refers to “a mix of grains for animal feed.” The word farina, a form of milled wheat, is of course related.