Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word:
If you come across a piece of writing that is so over-the-top, so bombastic, so pompous and pretentious that it seems more like upholstery than writing, there's a label you can pin on it: fustian
(pronounced FUST-yun or FUSS-chen).
Fustian was originally a coarse cloth, later a higher-grade twill. The word comes into English from the French fustaigne
. The etymology is conjectural, but one explanation is that it derives from the medieval Latin fustaneum
, from pannus fustaneus
, "cloth from Fostat," a suburb of Cairo where the stuff was manufactured.
A further conjecture is that the sense progressed from mere cloth to bombast because fustian was used to cover pillows and cushions, and thus took on a sense of padding.
Whatever the origin of the word, we recognize the verbal kind when we see the turgidity.
From Georgette Heyer's The Grand Sophy
: "Pooh!" said Sophy. "Mind your horses, Charles, and don't talk fustian to me."
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