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‘Fulsome’

[30 Sept 2011] ‘Fulsome’ used to mean ‘insincere’, so if your manager gave you fulsome praise it was nothing to be delighted about. Nowadays, most people use ‘fulsome’ to mean ‘full’, and ‘fulsome praise’ to mean ‘hearty commendation’. So, what the dictionaries call ‘careful users of English’ often avoid the word altogether for fear of being misunderstood. No such scruples for Daily Mail columnist Amanda Platell, who recently gave the word an even odder meaning: ‘They should take a look at this picture of a fulsome Julia Roberts in a bikini on the beach with her husband and three children.’ Well-rounded praise indeed? [MC]

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