If you have "no place to go," come here!


Tom Allen came up with this awesome word here, and I thought I'd add my response:

MM: Kayfabe is not merely the word of the day, but of the decade. Awesome!

In professional wrestling, kayfabe (pronounced /ˈkeɪfeɪb/) is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as “real” or “true,” specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or pre-determined nature. Kayfabe has also evolved to become a code word of sorts for maintaining this “reality” within the realm of the general public.[1] Kayfabe was long held as a closely guarded secret within the professional wrestling industry; however, with the advent of the Internet, it has evolved into an open secret in the industry that is generally only adhered to during shows.

The Republicans as Harlem Globetrotters, Democrats as Washington Generals trope is an example of kayfabe, but now we have a word for the concept.

Kayfabe is often seen as the suspension of disbelief that is used to create the non-wrestling aspects of promotions, such as feuds, angles, and gimmicks, in a manner similar to other forms of fictional entertainment. In relative terms, a wrestler breaking kayfabe during a show would be likened to an actor breaking character on camera. Also, since wrestling is performed in front of a live audience, whose interaction with the show is crucial to the show’s success (see pop), one might compare kayfabe to the fourth wall, since there is hardly any conventional fourth wall to begin with.

So much better than “kabuki” or IMNSHO “Hasbara,” since its origin is in this country. See also here for discussionn of “breaking kayfabe”, and a general agreement that “kayfabe isn’t what it used to be” (much like my feeling that Obama doesn’t even care enough to fake it any more).

* * *

It seems to be pronounced KAY-fabe (long a, silent e) and could derive from pig latin for “fake”, or pig latin for “keep” (as in “keep quiet”). Sadly, it appears at Language Log only in comments.

Also implicitly includes a social relations, unlike, for example, bullshit.

Average: 5 (1 vote)


ralphbon's picture
Submitted by ralphbon on

Love it. I was never fond of "kabuki," anyway--overused, often with an air of smugness, by access bloggers, as L calls them. It seems there's a movie called Kayfabe. Who knew?

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

I got the word from a commenter on Ian Welsh's site on an essay on the sequester and began to explore it.

4 permalink
March 1, 2013

I wouldn’t say that they can’t see it. Pointing it out resulted in my IP getting blocked at Hullabaloo dozens of times. Suggesting that a permanent power duopoly isn’t the inevitable consequence of a plurality-win system resulted in an instant ban at Mahablog. A lot of people seem intent on maintaining Kayfabe at any cost. I strongly suspect Hullabaloo has dropped its comment section largely due to the difficulty of doing so under the present circumstances.

Submitted by lambert on

I left Digby in 2009, when the shilling for the so-called public option got ridiculous, but if I'd waited around long enough, I could have added Hullabaloo to the list of sites that banned me!

(Daily Kos, FDL, Open Left.)

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

So now it is bad Kayfabe like bad Kabuki where the actors don't even bother to put on the makeup anymore. But we few, we unhappy few who are crying out with little hope of an audience, "Look, over there! the emperor behind the curtain has no clothes on! Look! Look! Really! He's butt naked!"
Move along, lady, move along.

Submitted by lambert on

... returns to Syria, starts pulling down serious humanitarian relief money, and emerges as the head of the opposition movement, all in a few months.

It's a magical experience, I'm tellin ya!