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Disputed. Various explanations of the origin are given:
- That it is a contraction of the phrase "far be it from me to criticize anyone, but...", or of "far below" (the expected standard).
- 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).
- 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.
- Many early replica rifles were marked with what looked like "F.A.R.B" among the proofmarks.
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".
- (US, slang, intransitive) To act like a farb; to portray a historical character in an inauthentic way.