What the Fooby is going on?

March 2, 2017, 5 Comments

It’s a new word that’s everywhere at the moment but what does it mean? Fooby might look English but no native English-speaker would ever be able to guess its meaning. An African bird? Slang for a part of the body? A lying politician? All of the above?

The problem is that fooby is a made-up word, so essentially has no real meaning in English. This ugly Frankenstein-word was created by Coop, one of the main Swiss supermarkets, for their new website and app for all things to do with food and cooking. And therein lies the clue to its meaning: the FOO part is clearly from food, but what about the BY part?

As hard as I tried, I couldn’t think of any reason why BY would be on the end. Foody, or even foodie, was much more logical to an English speaker but for a German speaker in Switzerland it wouldn’t be great (fudi means arse or backside). Then inspiration struck and I think I know where Coop got its BY from. Hobby.

Food plus Hobby contracts to Fooby. And the website/app is all about cooking as a pastime or hobby (a word which is the same in German) with recipes, videos and personal stories. That I can almost live with, but it gets worse. Coop calls its contributors to this project Foobys. Never mind the horrible plural as that is quite normal here: babys, ladys, partys are all standard plurals. What trumps that is a hobby becoming a person.

Of course each of these Foobys has a story to tell, which – you guessed it – become Fooby Storys. It’s an English speaker’s nightmare. Made-up words mixed with real words and all with tortuous spellings. And all pretending to be English because that’s trendy when it comes to marketing a new product or app. Migros, the other supermarket, has launched a similar service but with a much less annoying name: Migusto. At least it’s in a national language!

So Fooby (also the same in French and Italian) is a new word in the Swinglish lexicon, but the least attractive one by far. I hope that it never gets to the stage where someone tells me that they’re a fooby at heart.

5 Comments on "What the Fooby is going on?"

  1. eric Thursday May 11th, 2017 at 04:07 PM · Reply

    So by this logic, people who enjoy enjoy Halloween and shouting “BOO” as a hobby are, naturally, called…

  2. Silvana Finestra Thursday August 24th, 2017 at 03:38 PM · Reply

    The food scene is growing in Switzerland and people are getting excited about discovering new restaurants and about cooking themselves. I just recently moved to Zurich and tried several services which I didn’t like. This week though I downloaded a new App called Mealseaty which not only gives you new ideas for restaurants but you also get a discount to eat there if you use the App. Check it out if you’re interested in food topics and technology 🙂

  3. C.M. Mayo Thursday May 10th, 2018 at 03:32 PM · Reply

    Thank you for solving this mystery. I have been shpping at the Coop for the past several months wondering what in the Basel is a Fooby!

  4. Dulume Thursday April 25th, 2019 at 05:04 PM · Reply

    I’ve just been in a Fooby that recently opened in Lausanne. First of f all I didn’t understand while I was there what this place was. I didn’t understand the word either and thought it was really really ugly. I speak French BTW. Then the place is incomprehensible : I just didn’t understand what their aim was, and I’m still struggling to understand who would shop there… Clearly not someone looking for quality, you find the same crap then in coop stores, just a weenie bit more expensive. This was a ridiculous experience.

  5. Barbara Ender Tuesday August 13th, 2019 at 11:21 AM · Reply

    Found this by accident. I also wondered about the ghastly Swissglish word and asked on the fooby facebook page. You are right, it is a “fantasy” word combining foodie and hobby (but I would never have guessed) and am told it is understandable all over Switzerland. To me it sounds like a toy (probably thinking of Furby).
    The Lausanne shop is very beautiful, but stocks only the most expensive Coop items, a lot of the Fine Food range. It gets busy at lunchtime with people buying takeaway salads, and also in the evenings when people nip in on their way home from work (it is conveniently near a bus stop). Usually when I go past it is desperately empty.

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