The Meaning of Fugazi: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever been curious about the definition of fugazi? This guide will provide you with all of the information you need on the word fugazi, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word fugazi mean?

According to Linguaholic, the term fugazi has two possible meanings. The first is fake or counterfeit. For example, a piece of costume jewelry could be considered fugazi. The term fugazi can also mean messed up beyond recognition. For example, someone might drive by a car accident and describe the pile up as fugazi.

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word fugazi?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word fugazi. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Since the term fugazi can either mean something that is messed up or something that is fake, this means that there are two different sets of synonyms for this word. Synonyms are useful to know if you want to avoid repeating yourself or if you are looking to expand your vocabulary or knowledge of the English language. This list of synonyms for using fugazi to mean “fake” is provided by Thesaurus.

  • make-believe
  • counterfeit
  • assumed
  • phony
  • reproduction
  • fictitious
  • pretended
  • false
  • sham
  • imitation
  • forged
  • simulated
  • affected
  • artificial
  • bogus
  • fraudulent
  • mock
  • invented
  • fabricated
  • spurious
  • fake
  • concocted
  • pseudo

The term fugazi can also be used to mean messed up. This list of synonyms for messed up is also provided by Thesaurus.

  • pollute
  • ruin
  • discompose
  • disarrange
  • spoil
  • dishevel
  • damage
  • destroy
  • befoul
  • clutter
  • unsettle
  • foul
  • derange
  • louse up
  • besmirch
  • upset
  • confuse
  • goof up
  • dirty
  • bobble
  • bollix
  • smear
  • disturb
  • muddle
  • bungle
  • botch
  • soil
  • disorganize
  • litter
  • jumble
  • gum up
  • screw up
  • disorder
  • messed up
  • scramble
  • rummage

What if you wanted to use a term that is the opposite of fugazi? In this case, there are also two sets of potential opposites, called antonyms. The following list of antonyms for fugazi with regard to the meaning “fake” is below, from Thesaurus.

  • evident
  • veritable
  • heartfelt
  • factual
  • bona fide
  • intrinsic
  • concrete
  • sincere
  • true
  • indubitable
  • substantive
  • honest
  • positive
  • unfeigned
  • incarnate
  • unaffected
  • rightful
  • material
  • undeniable
  • absolute
  • actual
  • sound
  • physical
  • authentic
  • existing
  • palpable
  • substantial
  • valid
  • stable
  • tangible
  • firm
  • legitimate
  • real
  • corporeal
  • corporal
  • in the flesh
  • original
  • present
  • certain
  • de facto
  • irrefutable
  • bodily
  • sensible
  • solid
  • perceptible
  • embodied
  • right
  • undoubted
  • live
  • existent
  • essential

Finally, there is also a large set of antonyms one can use in reference to the term fugazi meaning “messed up.” This list is also provided by Thesaurus

  • systematic
  • in good shape
  • businesslike
  • to rights
  • clean
  • well-ordered
  • spruce
  • well-kept
  • cleanly
  • neat as a pin
  • well-groomed
  • shipshape
  • methodical
  • ordered
  • uncluttered
  • snug
  • orderly
  • apple-pie order
  • sleek
  • chipper
  • trim
  • neat
  • tidy
  • spick-and-span

How can the word fugazi be used in a sentence?

In this first example, fugazi will mean messed up beyond recognition. Joey is a bassist and Nicky is a guitarist in a rock band. They are recording their first studio album. Nicky is frustrated.

Nicky: Stop, stop. Just stop. We sound like a punk band, not a rock band. All of these songs sound all fugazi. 

Joey: Nicky, I think it’s just because we’ve never recorded in a studio before. Wait to judge it until it’s mixed.

In the next example, Joey and Nicky are discussing where they want to live.

Nicky: I think we should live in the city. Being in the middle of New York is the perfect way to go to open mics every night.

Joey: But New Jersey is so much cheaper. It’s basically New York.

Nicky: Yeah, a fugazi New York.

What is the etymology of the word fugazi?

According to Medium, some people believe that the word fugazi is Italian for fake, though this is wholly incorrect. The Italian word for fake is falso, or falsa. There are even more specific words like contraffatto or contraffatta, which mean counterfeit, according to Google Translate. People postulate that it may have originated from the Italian fugace, meaning fleeting or impermanent, or the words fu and cazzo, which come together to form fu cazzo, meaning “it was sh*t.” Some people also believe that this comes from the French word fougasse, which is both a type of bread shaped like a leaf and a landmine that was used during the 30 Years War. 

However, in 1987, Ian MacKaye used the term “Fugazi” to name his band after the band Minor Threat. Many believe that this term has its origins in the Vietnam War. This is similar to the phrase FUBAR, which stands for “fucked up beyond all recognition.” FUGAZI is an acronym that can stand for “f*cked up got ambushed, zipped in[to a body bag].” This began to be used by members of the US Military to describe something that is damaged beyond repair. This could be considered a “backronym” or reverse acronym. Abbreviations like FUGAZI and FUBAR are considered slang terms.

The word fugazi was further popularized by the film Donnie Brasco, in which Al Pacino’s character Lefty Ruggiero attempts to sell a ring that is labeled as a “fugazi” or a fake. This term is also used in the book Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia, though here it was spelled fugazy, with a y instead of an i. In this context it was always used to refer to counterfeit jewelry. The term was also used in the Martin Scorcese film The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey.

Overall, the term fugazi is used to describe something that is either fake or counterfeit, ro something that is messed up beyond repair. This slang term is used frequently, and its origin is unknown.