Fain - feign

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These homophones - both words are pronounced IPA: /feɪn/ - are rather old-fashioned, though both are to be met with in the course of academic studies.

  • Fain is an adjective and an adverb. It is an archaic way of saying 'glad', or 'willing'. The adverbial use is perhaps commonest in the form "I would fain do ...", ~ "I would like to do ..." (There are other, even more obscure, meanings, of fain, as verb, noun or adjective/adverb.)
  • To feign is a verb meaning 'to pretend', or, colloquially, 'to fake'. More academically, OED says "To fashion fictitiously or deceptively". A football player may feign injury in order to have a rest. (See -eign for more about the spelling and pronunciation of this pattern of letters.)
There is also a rarer and more archaic homophone, the noun 'fane'. This means 'temple or sacred site'. It comes from the Latin word fanum ('sanctuary', 'temple'). It is the origin of the name of an Italian town, Fano. 'Fano coding' is also a technical term in computing, which. along with the Fano algorithm and the Fano inequality were devised by, and named for, the computer scientist Roberto Mario Fano (1917–2016).
You may also want to see feint, for information on the etymology of feign.