Fourberie: A piece of deception; a fraud, a trick, imposture.

This obscure word (which was new to me) appeared in a news story last week about the renaming of some streets in the New York City borough of Staten Island:

A state Supreme Court judge has granted permission for Staten Island Borough President James Oddo to bestow unflattering street names spelling out greed and deceit on a private development he fought on the former Mt. Manresa site.

In a decision issued Thursday, Judge Philip Minardo ruled Oddo has the authority to pick street names of his choosing, despite a complaint from the developer, Savo Brothers, that the three he chose — Cupidity Drive, Fourberie Lane and Avidity Place — are “derogatory,” according to court papers.

Mount Manresa was a 103-year-old Jesuit retreat house. The developers had suggested naming the streets Pearl View Lane, Silver Bridge Drive, Lamb Run, Lazy Bird Lane, Amber Heights Drive, Rabbit Ridge Road, Willow Reach Lane, and Turtle Drive. Back in December, Oddo said those names had “deficiencies,” and added that he came up with their replacements “based on a belief that the developers were mocking people who had fought against their plans with the quaint addresses they had originally suggested.”  

On February 11 a victorious Oddo tweeted:

Auricularly is unusual but not madeupical.  

Fourberie is spelled fourbery (“also furbery”) in the OED; the OED’s earliest citation is from 1650, and the most recent is from 1856. The word came into English from French: the noun fourbe means “a cheat” or “an imposter,” and comes ultimately from fourbir, “to furnish,” used in a figurative sense.

Cupidity means “desire for wealth”; the original sense of avidity was “greed.”

James Oddo, a Republican, was born on Staten Island in 1966 into a family of city employees. He was elected borough president in September 2013 after serving 14 years on the city council.