Word Wednesday.

Fulsome

Adjective.

1a: characterized by abundance: copious. b: generous in amount, extent, or spirit. c: being full and well developed.

2: aesthetically, morally, or generally offensive.

3: exceeding the bounds of good taste: overdone.

4: excessively complimentary or flattering: effusive.

– fulsomely, adverb.

– fulsomeness, noun.

Usage: The senses shown above are the chief living senses of fulsome. Sense 2, which was a generalized term of disparagement in the late 17th century, is the least common of these. Fulsome became a point of dispute when sense 1, thought to be obsolete in the 19th century, began to be revived in the 20th. The dispute was exacerbated by the fact that the large dictionaries of the first half of the century missed the beginnings of the revival. Sense 1 has not only been revived but has spread in its application and continues to do so. The chief danger for user of fulsome is ambiguity. Unless the context is made very clear, the reader or hearer cannot be sure whether such an expression as “fulsome praise” is meant in sense 1b or in sense 4. [Merriam-Webster.]

[Origin: Middle English fulsom, copious, cloying, from full + –som -some.]

(13th century.)

“Glad to meet you, sir. I have heard your name mentioned in connection with that of your friend. You interest me very much, Mr. Holmes. I had hardly expected so dolichocephalic* a skull or such well-marked supra-orbital development. Would you have any objection to my running my finger along your parietal fissure? A cast of your skull, sir, until the original is available, would be an ornament to any anthropological museum. It is not my intention to be fulsome, but I confess that I covet your skull.” – The Hound of the Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle.

*Dolichocephalic

adjective: having a relatively long head with a cephalic index of less than 75.

[Origin: New Latin dolichocephalus long-headed, from Greek dolichos long + – kephalos, from kephalē head.]

(1852)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s