Disputed. Various explanations of the origin are given:
- That it is a contraction of the phrase "Far be it for me to criticize anyone, but..."
- That it comes from the German word Farbe ("colour") (many fabrics dyed with modern dyes are "too colourful" to be authentic, by comparison with their historical originals).
- That it stems from the rating of a reenactor's portrayal as "'Far below'" the standard.
- There exists a letter dated 1 April 1863 from an A.R. Crawford in the 76th Illinois Infantry, Co D, that uses the phrase, "fallacious accoutrements & reprehensible baggage," in description of six children posing in phony military gear during a sham reenactment that took place during the actual Civil War. Many point to this phrase as the origin of the word, citing "farb" as an acronym.
farb (plural farbs)
- (US) A historical reenactor (especially an American Civil War reenactor) whose efforts at a historically accurate portrayal are, in the opinion of the speaker, inadequate (for example, wearing a modern wristwatch with period costume). The opposite of farb is "hard-core" (or hardcore), someone who is, in the opinion of the speaker, an "authenticity fanatic".
- To act like a farb, to act inauthentic.