from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To join or fit closely or tightly.
  • n. A fairy or an elf.
  • n. Archaic Faith: "Sirrah, by my fay, it waxes late” ( Shakespeare).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A white person.
  • adj. White.
  • n. A fairy; an elf.
  • v. To fit.
  • v. To join or unite closely or tightly.
  • v. To lie close together.
  • v. To fadge.
  • v. To cleanse; clean out.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A fairy; an elf.
  • n. Faith.
  • intransitive v. To lie close together; to fit; to fadge; -- often with in, into, with, or together.
  • transitive v. To fit; to join; to unite closely, as two pieces of wood, so as to make the surface fit together.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To join; put together; fit together; frame.
  • Specifically
  • To fit (two pieces of timber) together, so as to lie close and fair; fit.
  • To put to; apply so as to touch or cover.
  • To fit; suit; unite closely. Specifically
  • In ship-building, to fit or lie close together, as two pieces of wood. Thus, a plank is said to fay to the timbers when there is no perceptible space between them.
  • To suit the requirements of the case; be fit for the purpose; do.
  • To cleanse; clean out, as a ditch.
  • About to die; fated; doomed; particularly, on the verge of a sudden or violent death.
  • Dying; dead.
  • n. A fairy; an elf. See fairy.
  • n. Synonyms Elf, etc. See fairy.
  • n. Faith; fidelity; loyalty.
  • n. A Middle English form of foe.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a small being, human in form, playful and having magical powers


Middle English feien, from Old English fēgan; see pag- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English faie, enchanted person or place, from Old French fae; see fairy.
Middle English fai, from Anglo-Norman fei, fed; see faith.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English feyen, feien, from Old English fēġan ("to join, unite"), from Proto-Germanic *fōgijanan (“to join”), from Proto-Germanic *fōgō (“joint, slot”), from Proto-Indo-European *paḱ- (“to fasten, place”). Akin to Old Frisian fōgia "to join", Old Saxon fōgian "to join" (Dutch voegen "to place"), Old High German fuogen "to connect" (German fügen "to connect"), Old English fōn "to catch". More at fang. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English fegien, fæien ("to cleanse"), from Old Norse fægja ("to cleanse, polish"), from Proto-Germanic *fēgijanan (“to decorate, make beautiful”), from Proto-Indo-European *pōḱ-, *pēḱ- (“to clean, adorn”). Cognate with Swedish feja ("to sweep"), Danish feje ("to sweep"), German fegen ("to cleanse, scour, sweep"), Dutch vegen ("to sweep, strike"). More at feague, fake, fair. (Wiktionary)
Middle English faie, fei ("a place or person possessed with magical properties"), from Middle French feie, fee ("fairy", "fae"). More at fairy. (Wiktionary)
Abbreviation of ofay. (Wiktionary)



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  • Breathing hurts in weather that cold, but whatever the problems of being winterbound in the City they put up with them because it is worth anything to be on Lenox Avenue safe from fays and the things they think up;
    —Toni Morrison, Jazz

    short for 'ofay', US black slang for a white person, of much-guessed etymology

    December 19, 2008

  • fay a little used (obsolete), but perhaps more appropriate word for faith: seems more a verb than a noun: was its usage diminished or lost during the enlightenment when we changed much into nouns from verbs: “Sirrah, by my fay, it waxes late�? (Shakespeare).

    January 16, 2007