Imagine you did something that other people didn’t like. They say you were wrong to do it. You’ve go to say sorry, say that you won’t do it again. Now you don’t believe you actually did anything wrong, but you’ve got to make that apology anyway. Preferably where everyone can hear it.
Now your apology actually sounds as insincere as it is. Everyone hears it. They make a bigger fuss than ever before. Your apology, rather than getting you out of trouble, got you into hotter water. Oops! You just made a fauxpology.
As an internet neologism, it is slowly gaining traction. Not as fast as the by now infamous (and already becoming obsolete) refudiate, but progress nevertheless. I cam across it in Ruth Marcus’ column here. So if an old world style newspaper columnist is using it, I guess it’s a legal word.
But what a beautiful word – with so many rich shades of meaning. Read as a portmanteau of faux (false) and apology, on one level it simply means a fake apology. In that case though, fakepology might have been more relevant and easily understood. But there’s a deeper meaning, if you read the word as a mix of faux pas (a polite word for a blunder) and apology. Meaning an apology, which is by itself a faux pas! One that forces you to issue a real, if necessary grovelling apology later on.
The example I can cite is from Marcus again. Joe Barton made an apology to BP; and then when his party hit him for apologizing to the wrong people, he had to apologize to the right people apologizing for the first apology. There may be juicier examples from our politicians, but best not to comment there!
Perhaps we could make a list of (in)famous fauxpologies here, as long as they do not make is have to issue a real apology later!