Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Excessively flattering or insincerely earnest. synonym: unctuous.
  • adjective Disgusting or offensive.
  • adjective Usage Problem Copious or abundant.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Full; full and plump; fat.
  • Causing surfeit; cloying.
  • Offensive from excess, as of praise or demonstrative affection; gross.
  • Nauseous; offensive; disgusting.
  • Lustful; wanton.
  • Tending to obscenity; coarse: as, a fulsome epigram.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective obsolete Full; abundant; plenteous; not shriveled.
  • adjective Offending or disgusting by overfullness, excess, or grossness; cloying; gross; nauseous; esp., offensive from excess of praise.
  • adjective obsolete Lustful; wanton; obscene; also, tending to obscenity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Offensive to good taste, tactless, overzealous, excessive.
  • adjective Excessively flattering (connoting insincerity).
  • adjective Abundant, copious.
  • adjective Fully developed, mature.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating in manner or speech

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English fulsom, abundant, well-fed, arousing disgust : ful, full; see full + -som, adj. suff.; see –some.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

Examples

  • V. i.112 (241,5) [as fat and fulsome] [W: flat] _Fat_ means _dull_; so we say a _fatheaded_ fellow; _fat_ likewise means _gross_, and is sometimes used for _obscene_; and _fat_ is more congruent to _fulsome_ than _flat_.

    Notes to Shakespeare — Volume 01: Comedies

  • The word fulsome is itself becoming incomprehensible.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • Whichever approach reviewers of Suite Française took — whether they followed the ‘lost book by dead writer’ angle, or played the French guilt card — they all used the limited space left after biography to indulge in fulsome but often strangely detached praise.

    Book Reviewing

  • Holocaust survivor and winner of many literary awards and lauded in fulsome tones

    40 entries from September 2007

  • Holocaust survivor and winner of many literary awards and lauded in fulsome tones

    Second-Hand Birthday Confessions

  • Holocaust survivor and winner of many literary awards and lauded in fulsome tones

    Second-Hand Birthday Confessions

  • “He came to us in fulsome state and told us of thee a thing which Heaven forfend; and the slave added a lie which it befitteth not to repeat, Allah preserve thy youth and sound sense and tongue of eloquence, and forbid to come from thee aught of offense!”

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Never refer to a fulsome bosom unless you want to get slugged by an intelligent woman.

    No Uncertain Terms

  • Never refer to a fulsome bosom unless you want to get slugged by an intelligent woman.

    No Uncertain Terms

  • Never refer to a fulsome bosom unless you want to get slugged by an intelligent woman.

    No Uncertain Terms

Comments

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  • Contranymic in the sense of fulsome praise being both negative (insincere, ironic) and positive (abundantly meritorious).

    September 30, 2007

  • so what do you do with a contranym - do you use it smugly, knowing that you're right, or to you avoid for fear that no matter what you do you'll always be wrong.

    October 6, 2007