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What is a “Foo Fighter”?

Image by Tobias Wahlqvist from Pixabay

The Answer

Towards the end of World War II, allied pilots observed strange lights and unidentified objects in the sky. They came to call these “foo fighters”. The phrase originates from a comic strip called Smokey Stover that appeared in the 1930s in the Chicago Tribune.

We all know of the Dave Grohl band – The Foo Fighters. Fewer people are aware of the origin of that phrase.

I had always assumed that a Foo Fighter was someone that fought foos. However, it seems that “foo” is instead an adjective describing what might be some kind of “fighter” plane (or UFO).

Since the objects were suspected to be some kind of secret enemy weapon, these reports were taken seriously. These sightings ended up being called “foo-fighters”, inheriting a nonsense word “foo” from a popular 1930s comic by Bill Holman called Smokey Stover.

Source: Amazon.com – no copyright infringement is intended

Dave Groh is reported to have had some regrets about naming his band The Foo Fighters.

“Around the time that I recorded the first FF tape (that became the first record), I was reading a lot of books on UFO’s. Not only is it a fascinating subject, but there’s a treasure trove of band names in those UFO books!” he said.

“So, since I had recorded the first record by myself, playing all the instruments, but I wanted people to think that it was a group, I figured that FOO FIGHTERS (WW2 term for UFO’s) might lead people to believe that it was more than just one guy. Silly, huh?”

Foo Fighters On Their Band Name | News | Clash Magazine

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