"rustic woodland spirit or demigod part human, part goat," late 14c., from Latin Faunus, the name of a god of the countryside, worshipped especially by farmers and shepherds, equivalent of Greek Pan. The faunalia were held in his honor. Formerly somewhat assimilated to satyrs, but they have diverged again lately.
The faun is now regarded rather as the type of unsophisticated & the satyr of unpurified man; the first is man still in intimate communion with Nature, the second is man still swayed by bestial passions. [Fowler]
The plural is fauni. The word is of uncertain origin. De Vaan suggests Proto-Italic *fawe/ono-, from a PIE word meaning "favorable," with cognates in Old Irish buan "good, favorable; firm," Middle Wensh bun "maiden, sweetheart."
1771, "the total of the animal life of a certain region or time, from Late Latin Fauna, a rustic Roman fertility goddess who was wife, sister, or daughter (or some combination) of Faunus (see faun).
Popularized by Linnaeus, who adopted it as a companion word to flora and used it in the title of his 1746 catalogue of the animals of Sweden, "Fauna Suecica." First used in English by Gilbert White (1720-1793) the parson-naturalist.
personification of the west wind in Roman mythology, from Latin Favonius, which de Vaan suggests is cognate with the god-name Faunus (see faun), from a prehistoric noun meaning "who favors" (see favor (n.)):
This also yields a good semantic motivation: the wind that stimulates vegetation can be called favourable. Favonius was regarded by the Romans as the herald of spring and the start of new vegetation (e.g. Cato Agr. 50.1, Cicero Ver. 5.27, Lucretius 1.11, Vitruvius 2.9.1).
The Latin word is the source (via Old High German phonno, 10c., via Vulgar Latin contraction *faonius) of German Föhn "warm, dry wind blowing down Alpine valleys." Related: Favonian.
in various usages, from the gentle boy hero of Frances Hodgson Burnett's popular novel "Little Lord Fauntleroy" (1885). The family name is recorded from mid-13c., literally "son of the king" (Anglo-French Le Enfant le Roy), from faunt, a Middle English variant of enfaunt (see infant). Middle English had also fauntekin "a little child" (late 14c.).
early 13c., from Old French figue "fig" (12c.), from Old Provençal figa, from Vulgar Latin *fica, corresponding to Latin ficus "fig tree, fig," which, with Greek sykon, Armenian t'uz is "prob. fr. a common Mediterranean source" [Buck], possibly a Semitic one (compare Phoenician pagh "half-ripe fig"). A reborrowing of a word that had been taken directly from Latin as Old English fic "fig, fig-tree."
The insulting sense of the word in Shakespeare, etc. (A fig for ...) is 1570s (in 17c. sometimes in Italian form fico), in part from fig as "small, valueless thing," but also from Greek and Italian use of their versions of the word as slang for "vulva," apparently because of how a ripe fig looks when split open [Rawson, Weekley]. Giving the fig (Old French faire la figue, Spanish dar la higa) was an indecent gesture of ancient provenance, made by putting the thumb between two fingers or into the mouth, with the intended effect of the modern gesture of "flipping the bird" (see bird (n.3)). Also compare sycophant.
Use of fig leaf in figurative sense of "flimsy disguise" (1550s) is from Genesis iii.7. Fig-faun translates Latin faunus ficarius (Jeremiah l.39). Fig Newtons (by 1907) are named for Newton, Massachusetts.