Fnord (plural form, fnords), refers to disinformation or irrelevant information intending to misdirect, with the implication of a conspiracy.
The word originated in the Principia Discordia, by Kerry Thornley and Greg Hill as a nonsense word, but was popularized by the Illuminatus trilogy of books by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. In these novels, it is claimed that the interjection "fnord" possesses hypnotic power over readers. A conspiracy of the world's controlling powers conditions everyone from a young age to not be able to consciously see the word "fnord"; instead, every appearance of the word will unconsciously generate a general feeling of uneasiness and confusion. Fnords are scattered liberally in the text of newspapers and magazines, causing fear and anxiety in those following current events. However, there are no fnords in the advertisements, encouraging a consumerist society.
It is implied in the books that fnord is not the actual word used for this task; it is a substitute since the actual word would not be able to be detected by most readers.
Use of the word "fnord" has become a popular catch phrase with followers of Discordianism.
To see the fnords means to be unaffected by the supposed hypnotic power of the word or, more loosely, of other fighting words.
The phrase "I have seen the fnords" was famously graffitoed on a railway bridge (known locally as Anarchy Bridge) between Earlsdon and Coventry city centre throughout the 1980s and 1990s, until the bridge was upgraded. The bridge and the phrase were mentioned in the novel A Touch of Love by Jonathan Coe.