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In a word: Fustian

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:

FUSTIAN

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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

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(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

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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.

Example:

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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