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Oct 29, 2013
This week's theme
Eponyms

This week's words
pecksniffian
smellfungus
falstaffian
milquetoast
bumbledom

Tobias Smollett, the inspiration behind Smellfungus
Tobias Smollett, the inspiration behind Smellfungus
Art: Nathaniel Dance-Holland, ca. 1764

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

smellfungus

PRONUNCIATION:
(smel-FUNG-uhs)

MEANING:
noun: A habitual faultfinder or complainer.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Smelfungus, a hypercritical character in Laurence Sterne's 1768 novel, A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. Earliest documented use: 1807.

NOTES:
Novelist Laurence Sterne modeled his character Smelfungus after traveler and author Tobias Smollett who complained about almost everything in his 1766 travel book Travels through France and Italy. Here's how Sterne describes Smelfungus:
"The learned Smelfungus travelled from Boulogne to Paris, from Paris to Rome, and so on; but he set out with the spleen and jaundice, and every object he pass'd by was discoloured or distorted. He wrote an account of them, but 'twas nothing but the account of his miserable feelings."

USAGE:
"And a couple of smellfungus from the Official Paper ... carped that Issel chose to jump when the schedule reached its toughest stretch."
Woody Paige; Issel is the Wrong Scapegoat in Nuggets' Mess; Denver Post; Feb 13, 1995.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence. -Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)

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