Sunday, October 17, 2010


Fulsome \FUL-sum\ , adjective;
1. Offensive to the taste of sensibilities
2. Insincere or excessively lavish; especially, offensive from excess of praise

This one got me thinking of the Man in Black, Johnny Cash. Folsom Prison Blues was one of his signature songs and was often the first one he would play after his standard introduction, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash." Fulsome is a word that no one would use to describe Cash or his music, but the slight phonetic similarity and negative connotation is at least enough to warrant a google search. Folsom State Prison is named for Folsom, a suburb of Sacramento in California. Unsurprisingly, the town is named after some rich guy.

According to
Fulsome is a middle English compound: ful + sum ("full" + "some") and originally conveyed a sense of "abundant" and "full" in the mid-13th century. A century later is meant "plump, well-fed" and by the 1640's it had become "overgrown, overfed." 20 years later it was being used to describe things that were "offensive to taste or good manners" and that definition still holds today. In the last 50 years, however, the word can also be used favorably, but that definition is usually reserved for fulsome praise.

The Oxford English Dictionary lists 7 different definitions, some including multiple sub-definitions and most of them convey a sense of gluttony or over-indulgence of some form and are obsolete.

*Today's word and the first definition were both taken from's 'Word of the Day' for Sunday, October 17

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