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From Middle English, from Old English.



fayre (comparative fayrer or more fayre, superlative fayrest or most fayre)

  1. (archaic) Fair, beautiful.


fayre (plural fayres)

  1. (archaic) A fair, a market.
    • 1533–1534, An Acte agaynst Forstallying & Regratying of Fyshe (25 Henry VIII, chapter 4); reprinted in The Statutes of the Realm: Printed by Command of His Majesty King George the Third, in Pursuance of an Address of the House of Commons of Great Britain. From Original Records and Authentic Manuscripts, volume III, [London]: Printed by George Eyre and Andrew Strahan, 1817, OCLC 758689339, page 440:
      WHERE AS before this tyme dyverse Actis of Parliament have byn made by the Kyngis most noble pgenitours agaynst forstallers and regratours of vytaile and other marchaundisez in markettis and fayres within this Realme of Englonde, [] Be it therfore enactid by auctorite of this psent parliament that noo maner of pson or psones of what estate degree or condicion he or they be, other then suche pson or psones as nowe be or herafter shalbe marchaunt venterers to Iselande, for the seid fysshe, [] shall bye any of the kindes of the seid fysshe at or [apon] the stone or at the seyd easte see syde or easte see costis, to sell the same fysshe agayn or any parte therof at any of the seid fayre or fayres callid Sturbrigge feyre Sancte Ives or Elye fayre; []
    • 1550, William Harrys, The Market or Fayre of Usurers: A Newe Pasquillus or Dialogue agaynst Usurye, howe and where it is Forbidden, & what Punyshement Belongeth vnto it, & whether (for ye Mayntenau[n]ce of the Necessary Trades of Marchaundise) it maye be Forborne, and ought to be Punyshed or not [...][2], London: Imprinted in London by Steven Mierdman, OCLC 65323840, front cover:
      The market or fayre of Usurers.
    • 1643, [John Barkstead] (attributed), White-hall Fayre; or, who Buyes Good Penniworths of Barkstead, [London]: Printed for A.P., OCLC 606701525, page 1:
      THE FAYRE PROCLAIMED. / O Yes, come all who doe intend to buy / Good Penniworths; do you want Treachery, / Schisme, Sedition, Votes, both pro and con, / Doe you want Bane, to kill a Nation: / Doe you want Orders, Questions, Proclamations, / Covenants, Contracts, Compacts, Protestations, / Here you may furnisht be, with fires of ayre, / O yes, come all then, unto White-Hall Fayre.
    • [1979?], Stebbing Society, Stebbing Elizabethan Fayre: The Fourth Great Elizabethan Fayre to be Held in the Village and Church of Stebbing, [Stebbing, Essex]: [s.n.], OCLC 773278062, front cover:
      Stebbing Elizabethan fayre: The fourth great Elizabethan fayre to be held in the village and church of Stebbing.
    • 1999, Rob Saipe, Working in Sport and Recreation: A Practical Approach, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire: Stanley Thornes (Publishers) Ltd, ISBN 978-0-7487-3899-1, page 83:
      Funbury community centre is planning to hold a large summer fayre and wants to develop partnerships with organisations that can help to make the day a success. It also wants to achieve the overall aims of the centre, which are to provide for the needs of the community.
    • 2011, Adrian Blundell; Richard Harrison; Benjamin W. Turney, Essential Guide to Becoming a Doctor, 3rd edition, Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 978-0-470-65455-2, page 99:
      Freshers' fayre takes place during the first few days and is usually found in one of the central campus buildings where the students' union has its home. This involves stalls of all the university clubs and societies that you can wander around at your leisure. There tends to be a diverse number of clubs  []. Representatives from companies such as banks, pubs, restaurants and nightclubs also attend these first few days.
    • 2012, Peter Forrester, Wings over Somerset: Aircraft Crashes Since the End of World War II, Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press, ISBN 978-0-7524-9031-1:
      During our planning of the Summer Fayre Jim offered to do a low level pass above the fayre’s proceedings. This stunt was not generally advertised, but certainly committee members knew about it. And so it was that whilst I was organising some youngsters ready to do their egg-and-spoon race, I heard the plane coming, and we all stopped to watch.
  2. (archaic) Fare.
    • 1881, Melbourne Town Hall, A Book of ye Olde English Fayre, Melbourne: Fergusson & Moore, OCLC 759878134, front cover:
      A book of ye olde English fayre.
    • 2015 September 4, Gavin Mairs, “Rugby World Cup 2015: Tom Wood reveals England's brutal dieting programme [print version: Brutal training is food for thought, says Wood, 5 September 2015, page 4]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Sports)[3], London, archived from the original on 5 September 2015:
      A typical fayre [for the England national rugby union team] at lunchtime would include curry or carbonara, soybeans, sweet potatoes, lentils, apples, oranges, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, whole wheat bread and fresh vegetables, while the evening meal could include cottage pie, steak, chicken and more steamed vegetables.

Usage notes[edit]

In the senses of "fair" (market) and "fare" (food and drink), fayre is still often used to lend an air of history or tradition, particularly in the United Kingdom; for example, a school's "summer fayre" or a university's "freshers' fayre", and "traditional English fayre [cuisine]".