- When your corn harvest produces three times as much corn as last year's harvest did, this is an example of a harvest that would be described as fulsome.
- When you keep going on and on and on about how delicious someone's cooking is to the point where people are annoyed by your repeated praise, this is an example of comments which would be described as fulsome.
- disgusting or offensive, esp. because excessive or insincere: fulsome praise
Origin of fulsomeapparent revival of the orig. sense, obs. since 16th c. full; ample; abundant: usage objected to by some
Origin of fulsomeMiddle English fulsom, abundant, disgustingly excessive from ful, full + -som, -some, but influenced, influence by ful, foul
- Excessively flattering or insincerely earnest. See Synonyms at unctuous.
- Disgusting or offensive: “With the stink of decaying corpses so near her cave … suddenly she felt overpowered by the fulsome reek” ( Jean Auel )
- Usage Problem Copious or abundant.
Origin of fulsomeMiddle English fulsom abundant, well-fed, arousing disgust ful full ; see full 1. -som adj. suff. ; see -some 1.
Usage Note: The original meaning of fulsome was “copious, abundant.” But fulsome is now most often used of remarks that involve excessive praise or ingratiating flattery, as in Their fulsome compliments were viewed as an awkward attempt at winning approval. This narrower application of the word has become its sole meaning for many educated speakers, to the point where a large majority of the Usage Panel disapproves of the use of fulsome to mean simply “full” or “copious.” In our 2012 survey, only 19 percent accepted the use of fulsome as a synonym of full in the sentence You can adjust the TV's audio settings for a more fulsome bass in movie soundtracks. Use of the word as a synonym of copious or expansive found only slightly more takers—21 percent accepted The final report will furnish a more detailed and fulsome discussion of the issues involved. The use of fulsome as a simple synonym of praising without a clear indication of inordinacy or insincerity split the Panel nearly down the middle, with 55 percent accepting the example The research director claimed that the product was a major advance that would improve Web access for everyone, and the marketing VP was equally fulsome in her remarks. Thus it may be best to avoid fulsome except where the context unambiguously conveys the idea that the praise in question is excessive or fawning.
(comparative more fulsome, superlative most fulsome)
- Common usage tends toward the negative connotation, and using fulsome in the sense of abundant, copious, or mature may lead to confusion without contextual prompts.
From Middle English fulsum, equivalent to full + -some. The meaning has evolved from an original positive connotation "abundant" to a neutral "plump" to a negative "overfed". In modern usage it can take on any of these inflections. See usage note