Monday, September 21, 2009

YOU PRAISE ME FULSOMELY; I PRAISE ME FULLY: Can't remember if we've covered this before, but it came up in one of the questions in the Tom Shales chat that KR linked in the Emmy comments.

While one possible definition of "fulsome" is "abundant or copious," the word has a negative connotation that, for whatever reason, people (including, formerly, me) miss. "Fulsome praise" isn't merely florid; it's disgusting and insincere. When Paul O'Neill says Derek Jeter is a great Yankee having his greatest year, that's praise, but it's not fulsome. When I say that Derek Jeter is the greatest shortstop of all time, a defender so stout that the Russians are threatening to abandon the Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987 unless he retires, a hitter so clutch that he sets his alarm clock to ring at one-down-man-on-two-outs-in-the-ninth o'clock, and a sexual force so potent that he can pollinate ash trees just by rubbing pine tar into his bat -- that's fulsome. Because I don't mean it, see?

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