35

Can anyone tell me what the suffix “‑fu” stands for in the following sentence?

If you want to take advantage of some other Spring-fu, like some of its aspect-oriented features, then you’ll need to use this heavy-handed, direct object management technique.

2

5 Answers 5

47

It stands for "(advanced) skill". There are lots of similar constructions, such as "Script-Fu", "Google-Fu", and so on. Wiktionary has an article on the suffix -fu:

Etymology
From kung-fu

Suffix
1. (slang) Expertise; mastery.

  • My google-fu is weak!
  • Aragorn uses Ranger-fu to figure out that Sam and Frodo have taken a boat.
4
  • I don't think that Spring (as a Java library) can have skills, expertise, or mastery. I guess, this use only works in your examples, as the -fu is an attribute of the subject, whereas in Liu's example, it relates to Spring.
    – malach
    Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 15:30
  • 10
    @Ralph Reckenbach: Spring-fu means mastery of the library. So if you have mastered using Spring you have Spring-fu. Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 18:07
  • @regdwight how about saying I have a weakness for Google-fuing everything instead of my google-fu is weak! Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 13:17
  • or google-fu is my primary strength. Somehow google-fu does not sound as good as I am "a pro data scientist" or "I am a pro data engineer", I am a "pro internet researcher" Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 13:20
0

Like many idioms with little historical depth, the use of -fu has more to do with cultural themes than grammatical construction and meaning. The pseudo-word "Spring-fu" is a construction meant to allegorically refer to kung-fu that endows the scripting language Spring with the mysticism and complexity of a martial art --- something that requires dedication to master and has hidden benefits ("really cool ju-ju") if mastered. Consequently, the current definitions of the suffix -fu are inadequate to describe the cultural use of the suffix in this evolving context.

1
  • 2
    What does this add to the accepted answer, and where is your research?
    – MetaEd
    Commented Apr 26, 2013 at 4:12
0

History

Around the 1990s, in the US, there was a movie reviewer who wrote under the name "Joe Bob Briggs". He specialized in reviewing low-budget, trashy action movies, with a lot of fight scenes.

The reviews typically end with a brief rating of the movie in question's "high points", including the types of action (represented by nouns naming objects used in fight scenes suffixed with "-Fu") [Wikipedia]

As an example

No dead bodies. One hundred seventeen breasts. Multiple aardvarking.[a] Lap dancing. Cage dancing. Convenience-store dancing. Blindfold aardvarking. Blind-MAN aardvarking. Lesbo [sic] Fu. Pool cue-Fu [emphasis added]. Drive-In Academy Award nominations for Tané McClure. Joe Bob says check it out. [Wikipedia]

This usage spread to the programming culture of the 1990s, and "scripting-fu" is the earliest usage I can remember. Apparently, it seems to have persisted.

1
  • This is the very brief and recent history of someone using it first, and my answer details the actual history, and why it might be apt as slang and also misrepresent the meaning. In this age of mix-up, remix, and memes, there is little that represents the meaning; the desire, instead, seems to be to destroy the meaning of words for a moment of confused fun. Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 20:09
-1

History

From Chinese books written in English on the history of exercises (as well as martial arts), I understand the meaning of kungfu or gongfu to be much more ancient than any of the arts: it's a word for,

an activity of great skill.

In other words, it could be applied to say, a fisherman, smith, or cook, 2 centuries BC.

Current Use

The way it's applied, the idea is sort of right, but also strange language: Kungfu doesn't mean you're skilled at 'Kung', while 'Fu' isn't a separate word with the meaning preserved.

I think it's an accident, inspired by the display of skill in popular martial arts movies, and applied to everything, but using a strange concatenation.

Meaning

It would be more correct to write, and it would preserve the meaning to write,

'Script kungfu'

or

'Google kungfu.'

It's also a skill you exercise, rather than an achievement you can point to after the fact. This is different from Western thought, and also means that at any time, anyone can practice a skill, in order to exercise it; and that exercising it has a point, and could be the point.

5
  • I don't see this use of "-fu" as an accident or strange but rather a folk etymology.
    – Laurel
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 18:28
  • Please see my answer for the origin.
    – JonathanZ
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 19:53
  • @Laurel You may berate the suggestion of an accident as a speculation on my part. But you would be wrong doing so. It's worthy to mention because we have seen these accidents in German, Swedish, Jiddisch, Indian English, British English from Nordic, US English from all over, etc. Words get imported not by someone publishing a translation dictionary or foreign encyclopedia, and then everyone learning and understanding before talking, but by someone not knowing the foreign language and talking to new friends and misunderstanding many, many words, and some misunderstood words stick, as here. Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 20:02
  • @Laurel I detail why the concatenation is strange in my answer. Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 20:04
  • The question asked "what does it mean here?", not "should this usage be permitted?".
    – JonathanZ
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 20:19
-3

Fu in Chinese means blessing or good fortune. Here it would be something like a great feature of the Java library Spring.

4
  • 10
    I think rather than "blessing or good fortune" it is the fu in 功夫, gongfu, which is being used here. Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 18:10
  • 9
    @Mr. "...with great skill" (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gongfu_tea_ceremony) seems indeed to fit the bill. You clearly have fu-fu Commented Dec 9, 2010 at 10:30
  • The downvote is because your answer is incorrect. Refer my answer for the meaning of the word kungfu. Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 18:11
  • They didn't ask what the meaning of "kungfu" was. They asked what the meaning of "Spring-fu" was.
    – JonathanZ
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 20:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.