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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)

  1. (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".
    • 1998, Tony Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic, 1st Vintage Departures edition, Vintage Books, →ISBN, page 10:
      "Farb was the worst insult in the hardcore vocabulary. It referred to reenactors who approached the past past with a lack of verisimilitude.

Derived terms[edit]


farb (third-person singular simple present farbs, present participle farbing, simple past and past participle farbed)

  1. To act like a farb, to act inauthentic.




farb f

  1. genitive plural of farba