The Discouraging Word today has an entry about the lexical item “defugalty.” Not only am I unfamiliar with it, so are all my dictionaries, and yet it exists—barely. Google turns up half a dozen examples, all of them using it as if it were a pre-existing word, not something that needs to be defined. Here are the contexts:
1. “As I was reading Mr. Norr’s article about the situation here at JSC, I noticed an interesting defugalty. Mr. Garman pointed out that the difference between platforms was only a few hundred dollars. I noticed he forgot that this was a ‘per platform’ cost.”
2. “I must be one of those complaining nitpicky, whining people who go to any length to imagine or try to trump up some ailment or defugalty. Chicken Little syndrome.”
3. “The pork checkoff defugalty had both winners and losers. Opponents wanted an end to the checkoff, but USDA says it will continue.”
4. “But, to his surprise, he found two white families, by the names of Fulbright and Campbell, already there and arguing over possession of the spring…. Springfield History records the defugalty between Fulbright and Campbell but omits mention of Samuel Martin in connection with the spring.”
5. “I went on the school board in 1929. I didn’t file for the election. Someone else put my name in;I think it was either Van Buren or Westhoff. Mrs. Sando and Mrs. Ravenscraft were both on the boardand were fighting…. It seems there was always some sort of ‘defugalty.'”
6. “Again…I am truly sorry you’re having this luck. I am here! While I was out (Okla.) I called the office every day and spoke to everyone there. Maybe you’re dialing the wrong extensions. Mine won’t work when I’m not there…. Sorry about the defugalty…but I received and aswered 50+ phone calls and 350 e-mails in the past 5-6 days.”
I think we can dismiss out of hand the speculation by TDW’s correspondent that the word (if we can call it a word) is derived from “fugue.” My Sprachgefühl tells me it’s a deformation of “difficulty”; compare the substitution of “definootly” for “definitely” (HDAS, Vol. I, p. 576). But we need data, citations, research! Anybody have any?