Friday, September 21, 2007


Since I have a backlog of over 100 words from DD, I can at least chose my favorite words for my return posts. Fungible is another of those.

Fungible comes from the the Latin "fungi" and "vice" for "to perform" "in the place of". Therefore, fungible means "freely exchangeable for or replaceable by another of like nature or kind" or "interchangeable". Pretty straightforward. Of course, the original root of "to perform" likely meant that it was intended to apply to people (servants, foot soldiers) but now it applies to any asset (commodities, money) and in deference to not alienating people (and the fact that the feudal system has largely been abolished), it is used almost exclusively with these tangibles.

While assembly line workers may be fungible, only an unfeeling corporate behemoth would refer to them as faceless, impersonal assets for fear of a union strike or a mass exodus of their labor force. Comingling client assets may make money fungible, but it does not erase their paper trail. Livestock are a fungible good for slaughter, but not for breeding. yes, although its dull and very clinical. I'll stick with financial instruments (stocks, bonds), money (duh--did you really expect to get that specific $20 that you deposited 5 years ago?) and people (for the sarcastic element). Often during my college education I felt that the University treated its students as no more than fungible--just like every other sucker from whom it could gouge exorbitant tuition while providing the bare minimum of services and herding us from class to class. Your mileage may vary.

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