1 plural fantods a : a state of irritability and tension
b : fidgets
2 : an emotional outburst : fit
Did You Know?
“You have got strong symptoms of the fantods; your skin is so tight you can’t shut your eyes without opening your mouth.” Thus, American author Charles Frederick Briggs provides us with an early recorded use of fantods in 1839. Mark Twain used the word to refer to uneasiness or restlessness as shown by nervous movements—also known as the fidgets—in Huckleberry Finn: “They was all nice pictures, I reckon, but I didn’t somehow seem to take to them, because … they always give me the fantods.” David Foster Wallace later used “the howling fantods,” a favorite phrase of his mother, in Infinite Jest. The exact origin of fantod remains a mystery, but it may have arisen from English dialectal fantigue—a word (once used by Charles Dickens) that refers to a state of great tension or excitement and may be a blend of fantastic and fatigue.