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:
You have no doubt seen it in a companion. One drink, and he is cheerful, talkative, exuberant. Two drinks, and he becomes sentimental. Three, and he is tearful, self-pitying, and embarrassing in his confidences. He has become maudlin, tearfully sentimental, and the phenomenon is frequently associated with drink. It is also associated with cheaply tear-jerking works of art, which you will have noticed if you attended a showing of
in a theater with a substantial number of young women in the audience.
The word has an odd history: It derives from the name of Mary Magdalen, who in Christian iconography has traditionally been identified with the repentant prostitute who anointed Jesus' feet. She is often pictured as weeping — thus the association with tearful drunks.
The pronunciation (MAWD-lin) is a slurring of the French Madeleine or the ecclesiastical Latin Magdalena. It is the same pronunciation as the names of the two British colleges named after Mary Magdalen, Magdalen College, Oxford, and Magdalene College, Cambridge.
Joseph Conrad: "It is a maudlin and indecent verity that comes out through the strength of wine."