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Video: 'You always fag out'

by Jeremy Hooper

Hey, do us a favor, will you? Click to the 35:34 mark of the below video and tell us if the exchange that follows is as offensive as we think it is:

We've been told by some that "fag out" is accepted British slang, and by others that it's as offensive a term as it sounds. Anybody have more insight?

March 30th -- David Gregory/ Billy Packer/ David Axelrod [Charlie Rose]

**UPDATE: Now we're hearing "fag out" is completely outdated and is generally thought of as offensive. Perhaps when daylight hits across the pond, we'll get some authentically British responses. Although considering Packer is in no way British, it would seem a little weird that he would be using local colloquialisms, even if acceptable.

***UPDATE, 4/5: And by 'queer bait,' I meant 'a strange fishing lure' [G-A-Y]

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Your thoughts

Actually, it is a British slang term. "To fag out" means "to exhaust oneself". It should be noted that in this specific case, "fag" is not a contraction of "f*ggot", but is rooted in the Middle English word "fagge". "Fagge" referred either to the fringed, loose ends of a rope, or to something that was loose and droopy. Hence, when someone says that they're fagged out, they're describing themselves as being worn out, droopy and tired.

However, there are other meanings for "fag out". One of them is "to bail out unexpectedly". These definitions are offensive, because they are rooted in the word "f*ggot". I haven't watched the clip, since I'm at work, so I'll leave it to others to judge which definition is more likely in context. But that's what I found with a bit of Googling.

Posted by: Katter | Apr 3, 2007 11:14:38 AM

It may very well mean "exhaust" in the UK, but this dude does not seem British - more American Red Neck.

Posted by: Dave | Apr 3, 2007 12:00:48 PM

At the age of 27 I can say that I have never ever heard anyone here in the UK use the term "fag-out" - ever. If it is an outdated term then it must be very very old. I don't know where he got this term from, but I'm pretty sure it's not anywhere in England!

Posted by: Jennifer | Apr 3, 2007 2:01:25 PM

I'm from Mississippi and I used to hear the phrase "I'm totally fagged" or "I'm completely fagged out" meaning, "I'm completely exhausted" all the time. It had absolutely nothing to do with the gay slur.

Not that I would EVER defend the scumbag Gonzales, but you asked if anyone was familiar with the phrase, so I have to honestly say yes and I have to honestly say that he used the phrase completely within the context of "exhausted" or "extremely tired".

Posted by: Zeke | Apr 3, 2007 9:22:27 PM

As a 42 year old Brit I can confirm never having heard the phrase 'fag out' until I read this article. In the UK a fag is either a cigarette (most common) and people may say 'put that fag out please' (in a non smoking zone), historically fag was a term used in Public (=private) schools and now more recently as a derogative term imported (locals more likely to use 'poof', 'queer')

Posted by: Deb | Apr 4, 2007 1:51:49 AM

Look, I think Packer is a clown a lot of the tim, but he is not a redneck. While he is not British, he is an old-school broadcaster and tends to lean towards using age-old terms like this one. I really doubt that he meant anything by it, but just used a term that was harmless slang.

Posted by: Slick | Apr 4, 2007 10:15:34 AM

At this point, it would seem that we just need to hear from Packer himself regarding his usage of the term. Hopefully he'll issue some sort of a statement.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Apr 4, 2007 10:24:54 AM

What does him saying something like this have to do with rednecks? As a redneck, I am offended to be wrongly categorized into the same group as an idiot like Billy Packer.

Posted by: Bryant | Apr 4, 2007 1:30:03 PM


a. A student at a British public school who is required to perform menial tasks for a student in a higher class.

The free dictionary.com

Posted by: d | Apr 4, 2007 7:04:25 PM

Well, another thing that everyone providing British definitions must remember is that Packer is not British. He wouldn't talk about "bangers and mash" or "riding the tube" or "using the loo." Or, on a more similar token, he wouldn't talk about "smoking a fag." So even if there are accepted uses of the word, it would still be a little bizarre for Packer to utilize them.

Again, he just needs to make some sort of a statement clarifying his comments.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Apr 4, 2007 7:09:41 PM

Mr. Packer is still bitter about his childhood nickname, "Fudge."

Posted by: Professor Von Pie | Apr 5, 2007 12:07:59 AM

I too have heard the expression used by my grandfather (an American WWII vet), and its meaning was never derogatory, just a reference to being tired. I really hate Packer, but I don't think he's making a slur here; my guess is he has no idea how "kids" use the term "fag out" in the 21st century as a playground put-down.

Posted by: andy | Apr 5, 2007 1:34:10 AM

I'm not surprised that someone in the sportsworld, like Packer, used such an offensive term. I was really surprised that Charlie Rose laughed so gleefully at the comment. Just two straight boys in the locker room, I guess. I always thought of Rose as a friend of the glbt community.
The old English expression defense just doesn't wash. George Allen tried that one with "macaca".

Posted by: Jim | Apr 5, 2007 3:32:42 PM

I am not a Billy Packer fan, but I've heard and used the phrase since I was old enough to remember, especially in athletics, I don't believe he was slandering anyone or any group of people by using the words fagged out. I believe the negative connection to the phrase was made long after when homosexuality was brought to the forefront of our society,it's a unfortunate generalzation of homosexuals being weak or femine and if you interpreted it to be demeaning then their is nothing BP could or should do about it.

Posted by: John Baldino | Apr 7, 2007 11:59:51 AM

Haven't seen the video, but I'm 50 and I've known all my life that to be "fagged out" is to be really tired. In fact, I was just about to write it in a sentence, but realized it sounds to much like "fag" or "faggot" to be polite nowadays, so I googled the term and found this discussion. OK. So I won't use the term. What a shame. We've lost a perfectly good term. People nowadays have no historical sense of the language and love to get offended about anything. But I don't have time to get in fights, so I'll just avoid it. Another word I avoid is "niggardly," an adjective which has been around since the sixteenth century and which means "grudgingly mean about spending or granting," in other words, "stingy, tightfisted." An assistant to the mayor of D.C. used the word to refer to budget allocations and got fired. So how do I feel about these controversies? Yes, the people who create an uproar about the use of these words merely show their total ignorance of the English language, but the people who use these words show a certain political ineptitude.

Posted by: Peter Floyd | Nov 3, 2007 7:56:25 AM

Peter: It's not that people are trying to "get offended about anything." There was room, considering the context in which it was used, to assume that Packer meant this is an offensive way. And then when he did address it, he showed an annoying lack of sensitivity.

Yes, you are right that "fag out" is an old term that has fallen out of favor in recent years. But as you correctly point out, it was a bit of "political ineptitude" to even choose to use this word in the way that he did. And as mentioned, his aggressive comments in later days were even more misguided:

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 5, 2007 9:35:00 AM

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