ersatz_read (ersatz_read) wrote in 1word1day,
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1word1day

Monday words: factitious, fictitious

factitious (făk-tĭsh′əs), adj.

1. Artificial or contrived (rather than natural).
2. Not genuine; sham.

Etymology:  1600s, Latin, from facere, to make.

Fictitious (fĭk-tĭsh′əs), adj.
1. Not genuine or authentic; false.
2. Of, relating to, or consisting of fiction; created by the imagination.

Etymology:  early 1600s, from Latin fingere, to form.

The words are sometimes used interchangeably, but they do have slightly different meanings.

A 'fictitious' item is purely imaginary.

A 'factitious' item is something that has been made, by artificial means (and could not exist naturally).
An example might be an element that has only been created in experiments and never observed outside of the lab.
A recent example of a factitious person would be this fake boyfriend on Instagram.
Munchausen Syndrome is one example of what is called a factitious disorder.


'Factitious' turned up in an email from someone taking a marketing class, asking me to fill out a survey for a "factitious product launch".  After puzzling over that sentence for a while, I think 'fictitious' would have been more appropriate.

Tags: adjective, f, latin, wordsmith: ersatz_read
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