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Jul 29, 2010
This week's theme
Words that aren't what they appear to be

This week's words
artificer
noisome
psychopomp
fulsome
meretricious

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

fulsome

PRONUNCIATION:
(FUL-suhm)

MEANING:
adjective:
1. Effusive; lavish.
2. Excessive to the point of being offensive.

ETYMOLOGY:
A combination of the words full and -some (having a particular quality).

NOTES:
Does the word fulsome have a positive connotation or negative? Depends on whom you ask. The word started out in mid 13th century as a straightforward, unambiguous word to describe abundance. By the 17th century, it had acquired a deprecatory sense, as in the second sense listed above. Then, again, it went around the bend and in the 20th century the positive sense of the word became more common. Language purists continue to stick with the second sense, while others use the word in its first sense. What to do? Avoid it, unless context is clear, as in the two usage examples below.

USAGE:
"Dacres offered Hull fulsome compliments on the courage and performance of his men."
Ian W. Toll; Blood Brothers; The Economist (London, UK); Nov 4, 2006.

"One tires of the fulsome endorsement, the blizzard of exclamation points, the arch locutions."
Daniel Aaron; Belle du Jour; The New Republic (Washington, DC); Feb 2, 1998.

See more usage examples of fulsome in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I hate with a murderous hatred those men who, having lived their youth, would send into war other youth, not lived, unfulfilled, to fight and die for them; the pride and cowardice of those old men, making their wars that boys must die. -Mary Roberts Rinehart, novelist (1876-1958)

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