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In "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013), Matthew Mcconaughey's character refers to the stock market as "all a fugazi (sp?)", going on to explain in various ways that it basically means "fake" or "a sham". The scene in question is here (warning: contains a lot of not-work-safe language & content), and he says the word at about 2:05.

I tried to look up this word and ran it through various Italian translators but I cannot find any reference to it anywhere. I tried manipulating the exact spelling with no luck. I only got results for some rock band and a quasi-official English military acronym.

So is this really an Italian word? Or maybe a mispronunciation or misunderstanding of one? I could imagine that it could be a quirk of Mcconaughey's character to just make up foreign words, since it would fit pretty well with what he is all about. Something about the word just really sticks with me though, like it sounds like it means exactly what he claims it does, but maybe that's just due to having seen the film.

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  • Welcome to ItalianSE!
    – abarisone
    Feb 26 at 7:56
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    Not sure why you are asking it here... Does the character say that it is an Italian word?
    – DaG
    Feb 26 at 20:43
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    I’m voting to close this question because nothing in it seem to have to do with Italian language. “Fugazi” isn't an Italian word, nor anything in the quoted movie implies that it is.
    – DaG
    Mar 1 at 15:44
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    @DaG The question "is qpdjvinfp an Italian word?" is about Italian language, in my view. It's not the fact that the answer is "no" that makes it off-topic. Mar 2 at 15:16
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    Apparently I started quite a discussion on this. I do realize now that there is indeed no indication that the word comes from Italian. I guess I just assumed so due to how it was pronounced, as well as the prominence of Italian characters in many of Martin Scorese's movies (although admittedly not so much in this one). This is obviously conjecture but I think it may be reasonable that many others have probably made a similar assumption.
    – wfgeo
    Mar 3 at 9:21
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It is not an Italian word, but looking for a meaning it turned out the term was used as a name for a rock band, Fugazi.

Investigating more about the origin of this name, it seems they chose the word "fugazi" from Mark Baker's Nam, a compilation of stories of Vietnam War veterans, it there being a slang acronym for "Fucked Up, Got Ambushed, Zipped In [into a body bag].

Moreover this site tries to give an explanation about band's name:

Band member Ian MacKaye says the name was derived from the book Nam, written by Mark Baker. In that book the author describes a situation that was typified by a Vietnam veteran as Fugazi.

Fugazi is an acronym that would stand for Fucked Up, Got Ambushed, Zipped In.

According to military sources however this explanation is completely off the mark and a mix up is assumed with Fubar (Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition).

Fugazi also seems to be American/Italian slang for 'fake'

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    Thanks for the response. I guess the main takeaway is that it is most likely American-Italian slang, which is why it make not appear in more "official" translators or dictionaries.
    – wfgeo
    Mar 3 at 9:28
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As others have noted, it is not an Italian word. Its Wiktionary page lists it as an (exclusively) English word of unclear origin; some the suggested etymologies involve Italian (but personally I don't find them very convincing).

Etymology 1

Origin unknown; a number of possibilities have been suggested:[1]

  • A corruption of French fougasse (“type of land mine”); flame fougasses were used extensively in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
  • An acronym of “fucked up, got ambushed, zipped in [a body bag]” (compare FUBAR), but this may be a backronym.
  • Less plausibly, from English fugacious (“fleeting”) or cognates such as Italian fugace (“fleeting”).

Etymology 2

Origin uncertain; said to be of Mafia origin, from the Fugazy Continental limousine company in New York City which was owned by William “Bill” Fugazy, due to its cheesy “look like a rich guy” advertisements of the 1970s and 1980s, or its alleged poor business practices,[1] possibly influenced by Italian fu cazzo (“it was shit”). The word was popularized by the film Donnie Brasco (1997), based on the book Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia (1987) by American former FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone (born 1939) who used the name “Donnie Brasco” as an undercover alias.

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