A correspondent asked: “Why is it that there is an ‘oldfangled’ and a ‘newfangled’, but no ‘fangled’?” I did a little research and responded:
Excellent question! Newfangled was originally newfangle, which goes back to the thirteenth century and is based on the archaic verb fang, meaning ‘grasp, seize; take, receive.’ (The original form is still occasionally used: 1993 Vancouver Sun (Nexis) 12 June D14 “Updating ‘Helena’ to a 1925 setting—new signs, fewer horses, more of those newfangle automobiles.”) It originally meant ‘fond of novelty or new things; keen to take up new fashions or ideas; easily carried away by whatever is new’ but came to simply mean ‘Newly or recently invented or existent, novel; gratuitously or objectionably modern or different from what one is used to.’ Oldfangled is much later (first citation: 1797 in Catal. Prints: Polit. & Personal Satires (Brit. Mus.) VII. 354 “We’ll stitch up these old fangled Garments for our beloved brats”) and is simply a play on newfangled.
There is actually a verb (and noun) fangle, though not often used (e.g. 1755 CARTE Hist. Eng. IV. 136 “Such was their zeal for a new religion of their own fangling”); the OED says they “arose from a mistaken analysis of NEWFANGLED, later form of newfangle ‘eager for novelty’. As newfangled was said both of persons and of their actions or productions, it came to be diversely interpreted to mean either ‘characterized by new fashions or crotchets’ or ‘newly fashioned or fabricated’.”
I thought that was interesting enough to share with the assembled multitudes.