Newfangled, a word old geezers use to describe those darn modern devices, is a very strange word if you think about it. The only surviving member from its Old English family, which included such words as andfangol (“undertaker”) and underfangle (“hospitality”), it’s essentially compromised of the prefix new- and the verb fangle, a remnant of yore which, going back in time, meant “novelty”, then “manufacture” (so something newfangled was newly manufactured), then, as fangel, “inclined to take”, and finally, in the form of Proto-Germanic fanglon, meaning “to grasp”. That Proto-Germanic word, by the way, would later produce fon “to seize”, which in turn is the etymon of fang, as in “sharp tooth”. Most likely this all traces back to the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction pehg, "to fasten". In the end, the most whimsical thing about newfangled is how old the word is.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.