Damning with fulsome praise.

It may be harsh to blame the victim, but it must be said: The word “fulsome” has only itself to blame for being misunderstood.

It looks and sounds as if it means large, lavish, and grand — in a good way. But, no: “fulsome praise” has as a key part of its definition a sense of something that is exaggerated and insincere.

In distant times the word was sometimes spelled “foulsome” which is much more true to its darker nature. Over the centuries it has donned the etymological equivalent of Spanx, softening its frank curves into a thinner and less tough self.

I say: Keep fulsome strong. Use it as the gross and over-the-top adjective.

(And, yes, it is a candidate for this blog’s Word Wall for sure.)

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