No, a furphy isn't a small hairy robot designed for amusing the children. If anyone's told you so then that, confusingly, is a furphy, for a furphy is a rumour or a fictitious story.
The Australians have cornered the use of the word furphy until now: but then why should the Ozzies have all the fun?
Word To Use Today: furphy. Furphy carts, used to transport water or sewage from the 1880s onwards (I do hope they were clearly labelled) were made at the Furphy family's foundry* in Shepparton, Victoria, Australia.
The twins in this photograph are Jill Mary Ellis and Barrie Cyril Ellis.
During the campaigns of Word War I these water carriers became popular as places for gossip, telling tall stories, and for promulgating rumours about troop movements.
Another theory about the word's origin is that the rumbling of an approaching furphy truck sounded like artillery fire, thus leading to unnecessary alarm.
*Try saying that quickly five times.