adjective Etymology: Middle English fulsom copious, cloying, from full + -som -some Date: 13th century 1. a. characterized by abundance ; copious <
describes in fulsome detail — G. N. Shuster
fulsome bird life. The feeder overcrowded — Maxine Kumin
b. generous in amount, extent, or spirit <
the passengers were fulsome in praise of the plane's crew — Don Oliver
a fulsome victory for the far left — Bruce Rothwell
the greetings have been fulsome, the farewells tender — Simon Gray
c. being full and well developed <
she was in generally fulsome, limpid voice — Thor Eckert, Jr.
2. aesthetically, morally, or generally offensive <
fulsome lies and nauseous flattery — William Congreve
the devil take thee for a…fulsome rogue — George Villiers
3. exceeding the bounds of good taste ; overdone <
the fulsome chromium glitter of the escalators dominating the central hall — Lewis Mumford
4. excessively complimentary or flattering ; effusive <
an admiration whose extent I did not express, lest I be thought fulsome — A. J. Liebling
fulsomely adverbfulsomeness 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 the 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.

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • fulsome — 1. The first meaning of fulsome was ‘copious, abundant’, but it had lost this along with other meanings by the 16c and acquired an unfavourable sense ‘excessive, cloying’, especially with reference to praise or flattery. This meaning remained the …   Modern English usage

  • fulsome — fulsome, oily, unctuous, oleaginous, slick, soapy are comparable when they mean too obviously extravagant or ingratiating to be accepted as genuine or sincere. Fulsome stresses a surfeit of something which in proper measure is not displeasing but …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Fulsome — Ful some, a. [Full, a. + some.] 1. Full; abundant; plenteous; not shriveled. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] His lean, pale, hoar, and withered corpse grew fulsome, fair, and fresh. Golding. [1913 Webster] 2. Offending or disgusting by overfullness, excess …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • fulsome — ► ADJECTIVE 1) complimentary or flattering to an excessive degree. 2) of large size or quantity; generous or abundant: fulsome details. DERIVATIVES fulsomely adverb fulsomeness noun. USAGE Although the earliest sense of fulsome was ‘abundant’,… …   English terms dictionary

  • fulsome — M.E. compound of ful full (see FULL (Cf. full) (adj.)) + som (see SOME (Cf. some)). Sense evolved from abundant, full (mid 13c.) to plump, well fed (mid 14c.) to overgrown, overfed (1640s) and thus, of language, offensive to taste or good manners …   Etymology dictionary

  • fulsome — [fool′səm] adj. [ME fulsom, abundant, disgustingly excessive < ful, FULL1 + som, SOME1, but infl. by ful, FOUL] 1. disgusting or offensive, esp. because excessive or insincere [fulsome praise] 2. [apparent revival …   English World dictionary

  • fulsome — index arrant (onerous), bad (inferior), bad (offensive), contemptible, detrimental, excessive …   Law dictionary

  • fulsome — [adj] sickening or excessive behavior adulatory, bombastic, buttery*, canting, cloying, coarse, extravagant, fawning, flattering, glib, grandiloquent, hypocritical, immoderate, ingratiating, inordinate, insincere, magniloquent, mealy mouthed*,… …   New thesaurus

  • fulsome — fulsomely, adv. fulsomeness, n. /fool seuhm, ful /, adj. 1. offensive to good taste, esp. as being excessive; overdone or gross: fulsome praise that embarrassed her deeply; fulsome décor. 2. disgusting; sickening; repulsive: a table heaped with… …   Universalium

  • fulsome — ful•some [[t]ˈfʊl səm, ˈfʌl [/t]] adj. 1) offensive to good taste, esp. as being excessive; overdone: fulsome décor[/ex] 2) disgusting; sickening; repulsive: fulsome mounds of greasy foods[/ex] 3) cvb excessively or insincerely lavish: fulsome… …   From formal English to slang

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