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Webster 1913 Edition


Fulsome

Ful′some

,
Adj.
[
Full
, a. +
-some
.]
1.
Full; abundant; plenteous; not shriveled.
[Obs.]
His lean, pale, hoar, and withered corpse grew
fulsome
, fair, and fresh.
Golding.
2.
Offending or disgusting by overfullness, excess, or grossness; cloying; gross; nauseous; esp., offensive from excess of praise;
as,
fulsome
flattery
.
And lest the
fulsome
artifice should fail
Themselves will hide its coarseness with a veil.
Cowper.
Ful′some-ly
,
adv.
Ful′some-ness
,
Noun.
Dryden.

Webster 1828 Edition


Fulsome

FUL'SOME

,
Adj.
1.
Nauseous; offensive.
He that brings fulsome objects to my view, with nauseous images my fancy fills.
2.
Rank; offensive to the smell; as a rank and fulsome smell.
3.
Lustful; as fulsome ewes.
4.
Tending to obscenity; as a fulsome epigram.
These are the English definitions of fulsome, but I have never witnessed such applications of the word in the United States. It seems then that full and foul are radically the same word, the primary sense of which is stuffed, crowded, from the sense of putting on or in. In the United States, the compound fullsome takes its signification from full, in the sense of cloying or satiating, and in England, fulsome takes its predominant sense from foulness.

Definition 2021


fulsome

fulsome

English

Adjective

fulsome (comparative fulsomer, superlative fulsomest)

  1. Offensive to good taste, tactless, overzealous, excessive.
    • 1726, Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, Part IV, Chapter VIII
      I immediately stripped myself stark naked, and went down softly into the stream. It happened that a young female YAHOO, standing behind a bank, saw the whole proceeding, and inflamed by desire . . . embraced me after a most fulsome manner.
    • 1820, Sir Walter Scott, The Monastery, ch. 35:
      You will hear the advanced enfans perdus, as the French call them, and so they are indeed, namely, children of the fall, singing unclean and fulsome ballads of sin and harlotrie.
  2. Excessively flattering (connoting insincerity).
    • 1889, Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, ch. 34:
      And by hideous contrast, a redundant orator was making a speech to another gathering not thirty steps away, in fulsome laudation of "our glorious British liberties!"
    • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses, Episode 15—Circe:
      Mrs. Bellingham: He addressed me in several handwritings with fulsome compliments as a Venus in furs.
  3. Marked by fullness; abundant; copious.
    The fulsome thanks of the war-torn nation lifted our weary spirits.
  4. Fully developed, mature.
    Her fulsome timbre resonated throughout the hall.

Usage notes

  • 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.

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