Like all angsty high schoolers, I loved The Catcher in the Rye. I had a strange, half-formed crush on Holden Kaufield; I, too, saw great beauty and meaning in the children's carousel, which is only the natural reaction for someone who is too embarrassed to still ride them but really, really wants to; and I imagined myself as the singular speck of authenticity floating in the teenage galaxy of, to borrow from Holden, phoniness, while, like Holden, not realizing that I wasn't that true to myself, either.
Nowadays, the word "phony" has become a bit of a zebra amongst horses, replaced with the more colloquial terms "fake" and "poser." However, in this modern age of social media, Photoshop, and airbrushing, we're going to need all of the synonyms we can get just to have one measly conversation about last night's episode of (insert any television show on Bravo, MTV, TLC, or E!).
But we hear enough about phoniness in the 21st century. Let's talk about phoniness in the 19th century.
In the late 1800s, similar to today, it was way too hard to find a job. Equal education was a joke, equal opportunity a scam. Therefore, those looking to earn fast riches took to swindling. Within the thieving community, code words were utilized to dupe the masses. One such word was "fawney," which referred to gilt brass rings. Advertised and sold as real gold rings, fawney eventually evolved into phony, giving us, and J.D. Salinger, the word we know and use today.
Student. Writer. Everything-o-phile.