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Definition: A baseball word referring to the action of the batter throwing the baseball into the air him/herself and hitting it with the bat when it descends. Although this does not happen in the game, it can happen during practice or during a children’s game, for example.

Pronunciation: Say it like you see it. Fun-go


An Americanism. It first appears around the mid-1860s. Although the origin is somewhat obscure, it is thought to derive from the German verb ‘Fangen’ – meaning to ‘catch’ – which itself entered the dialect of the descendants of German immigrants into America as ‘fonge’.

Why This Word?

Immigration has long been the great driver of American English. Fungo is a good example of the power and playfulness that happens when languages collide. It is also something that almost every American has tried at some stage – to throw up a ball and hit it with the bat. Yet I would imagine that most Americans are unfamiliar with the word.

Incidentally – a ‘Fungo Bat’ at one stage referred to a thin bat – or an unofficial, street bat/stick – used for fungos.

How to use the word fungo in a sentence?

Reserve this one for when you’re actually doing it. That summer cook-out when the kids are playing baseball? Grab the bat and ball from them and tell them to “Watch while I fungo this ball.” Kids are generally impressed when middle-aged adults interrupt their games and use out-dated slang.


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Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


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