Continuing my earlier postings on huckfests and hucking (here and here): some words about the compound noun huckfest and the related fuckfest, mentioned in the first posting, which are pretty clearly of the form V + -fest ‘a (metaphorical) festival of Ving’.

Compounds of the form X + fest (sometimes spelled solid, sometimes as two separate words) mostly have a N as X; they are, in form, ordinary N + N compounds. Here’s Michael Quinion had to say on his “affixes” site, about the combining form -fest in 2008:

A festival, gathering, or activity.

[From German Fest, festival.]

This ending was first used by German immigrants to the United States, on the model of words such as Octoberfest for the Munich beer festival, and is still most common there.

Early examples were gabfest, a gathering at which there is a lot of conversation (from gab, speech, as in gift of the gab); songfest, an informal or spontaneous gathering at which people sing; and slugfest, a tough and challenging contest, especially in boxing or baseball.

More recent creations include gloomfest, any unhappy gathering; campfest, a celebration by gays; and rockfest, a rock festival. The sense of activity is often broadly interpreted: gorefest, a type of excessively bloodthirsty film; flamefest, a bout of insults (‘flames’) exchanged between individuals online.

Mixed in with the N-fest examples is one clear case of V-fest, slugfest, and one possible case, gabfest (to which I can add talkfest).

On the sexual front, I can add suckfest, understood literally, and wankfest, which seems almost always to have metaphorical (and deprecatory) wank in it, as here:

Has Metal Deteriorated into a Wankfest for Drummers?

When metal became a wankfest for guitarists, it was at the height of it’s popularity.  Now that metal is a wankfest for drummers, interest has waned. Obviously lead guitar wanking has more popular appeal than rhythm/percussion wanking. (link)

But there are a number of non-sexual uses, for instance of metaphorical snorefest and snoozefest, and of literal fightfest ~ fight fest (used in boxing, wrestling, and extreme sports and theatrical representations of these) and gloatfest~ gloat fest:

Mixed Martial Arts Holiday Fightfest (link)

Glenn Beck Gloat Fest 2010! (link)

No doubt there are many more, sprinkled in with an enormous number of N + fest cases.

Though I’ve referred to some of the X + fest examples as literal, the fest part of them is usually understood metaphorically, referring not to a literal festival, but instead to many instances of some thing or event or to many kinds of some thing or event, parallel to the circus of Pancake Circus (here) or to feast in this front-page teaser in the 1/15/11 NYT:

THIS Weekend

Short Pieces

In a feast of short stories, reviews of collections by Coim TOoibin, Charles Baxter and Edith Pearlman.


In such examples, an ordinary count N (festival, feast, circus, whatever) is treated as a collective, available with either a postnominal PP (in N + of X: festival of criticism, festival of quibbles) or a prenominal modifying X (criticism festival, quibble festival).



2 Responses to “-fests”

  1. Ben Zimmer Says:

    See also the list of high-frequency X-fests on this page about the Oxford English Corpus. One V-fest listed there is bitchfest.

  2. Inventory of libfix postings « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] 17. POST –fest AZBlog, 1/17/10: fests (link) […]

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