Word of the day: Foley

Some people make a point of learning a new word each day. This web site does not teach you a new word each day, but time to time we will point out a fun new word that would make a good addition to your vocabulary.

Today's word is Foley. Foley has exactly two possible meanings, which you should never mix up. I repeat, do not mix up the two meanings of Foley.

The first meaning is sound effects, for a film. When films are shot, it is often difficult or impossible to clearly record sounds and dialog, and often a director will want to add additional sound to emphasize something, to create a mood, or to foreshadow something sinister. This is where Foley comes in. Monty Python's Holy Grail illustrates Foley by banging coconuts together instead of using real horses. If you didn't really pick up the joke before, but just giggled because of the word 'coconuts,' that's okay, it works on many levels.

The second meaning of Foley is a type of urinary catheter. This Foley is inserted through the urethra in order to drain the bladder. A Foley is not a truck; it is a series of tubes. Patients may be catheterized because of chronic urinary tract infection, prostate problems, or during surgery and long periods of recovery.

Do not underestimate how embarrassing it would be to confuse the two meanings of Foley. If you are a nurse in a hospital, and you are told to hook a patient up with a Foley, do not search for a metal sheet that sounds like thunder when shaken. This will only torment the patient, who is already having a hard time peeing and feels like the whole world knows about it.

If you find yourself on a film set in Hollywood and the director asks you to provide Foley for a scene, do not insert a tube into his urethra. What is wrong with you? Why would you even consider doing that? I don't even want to know what you thought the official duties of the Foley artist were when you signed up for this job.

  1. You MUST see Spamalot (the musical) if you get the chance. It’s hilarious. Not just a direct Holy Grail to stage translation. It just closed in Toronto.

    Sandwich Repairman
    September 20th, 2006 at 8:16 pm

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