Definition of fulsome in English:


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  • 1Complimentary or flattering to an excessive degree.

    ‘they are almost embarrassingly fulsome in their appreciation’
    • ‘And in Congress politics, fulsome flattery and obsequious loyalty play a vital role.’
    • ‘If the compliment seems fulsome, it must be remembered that Meres has higher praise and more of it for Shakespeare's fellow Warwickshireman, Michael Drayton.’
    • ‘Encouraged by success, he went to Rome, collected rich patrons, and with fulsome flattery won, but failed to keep, the favour of the tyrant Domitian.’
    • ‘The audience on opening night with fulsome in their appreciation of yet another very fine production by Waterford Dramatic Society.’
    • ‘Others just want praise: the more enthusiastic and fulsome, the better.’
    • ‘Following a telephone discussion with US President Bush the same day, Clark was pleased to report his ‘very, very fulsome appreciation’ of her government's support.’
    • ‘King's lack of fulsome appreciation for McQuesten's accomplishments indicates the tepid relationship between the two men.’
    • ‘Fundraising for the new organ, which came from Scotland, was organised by Rainsford and he was fulsome in his appreciation of all the generous donors.’
    • ‘If the fulsome apologies coming from the Labour leadership are for excessive force used upon an elderly man then apologies are right and proper.’
    • ‘From her, it seemed perfectly proper, and not even fulsome, just a nice compliment.’
    • ‘Even so, Keegan has been effusive and fulsome in his praise of Pearce's contribution both on and off the field.’
    • ‘Critics in Britain appear to be having an ongoing contest to see who can offer this writer the most lavishly fulsome praise.’
    • ‘But there can seldom have been more fulsome affair than the $275 a head extravaganza last week to celebrate John Howard's 30 years in parliament.’
    • ‘Yet the adulation of the rich and famous is surely as fulsome as ever.’
    • ‘It would be reasonable for him to make a fulsome apology.’
    • ‘Nor was Steve Cotterill fulsome in his support of the referee's actions, saying: ‘The referee has made a decision in the best interests of all the players and we can't really argue with that.’’
    • ‘The comparisons are obvious - and Duffy is fulsome in his praise for the Stones - but there's an important difference: while the Stones continue to make new music, who's actually interested in hearing it?’
    • ‘The international adjudicating panel was impressed by students and external partners who were as one in their fulsome praise of the Institute.’
    • ‘For all that, though, there is something rather strained and artificial about the fulsome praise of America that one gets from O'Keeffe and many other defenders of American liberal democracy.’
    • ‘One of those two points, the narrow yet yawning gap that separated the teams at the end, was scored by centre-forward Brian O'Meara, and he too paid fulsome tribute to the valiant vanquished.’
    • ‘The rhetoric wasn't new, but the response from the audience was unequivocal, with even the wavering Frank Fahey, and the chain smoking Martin Cullen, fulsome in their support.’
    enthusiastic, ample, profuse, extensive, generous, liberal, lavish, glowing, gushing, gushy
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  • 2Of large size or quantity; generous or abundant.

    ‘a fulsome harvest’
    • ‘And, of course, the movie is loaded with details, from the fulsome costumes to the full-scale ships and even to the eventual CGI pirate-into-ghost-pirate transitions.’
    • ‘Their reach for notoriety predicated on that fulsome mediocrity of talent detailed above has become frozen in their faces.’
    • ‘The discussion is much enhanced by fulsome detail with respect to the politics of building a new program from the ground up and the particular problems of implementing a general mission statement.’
    • ‘There is simply no other source with such fulsome detail about the Guid Neighbours, although writings on the second sight are far more plentiful.’
    • ‘He even edited for publication the lectures of his professor, one Isaac Barton, and accepted a fulsome paragraph of praise in the printed version, without disclosing to the author that the whole foundation of the work was mistaken.’
    • ‘I was feeling exhausted, what with the 22 miler, the Rowing Crew Mardi Gras and the fulsome lunch that was now rattling in my stomach and telling my brain to let me lie down in the aisle somewhere near the dairy produce and have a good snooze.’
    • ‘After we had had a chance to have good and fulsome discussions on it, we came to mutual agreement that it would be appropriate for me to leave at this time.’
    abundant, superabundant, plentiful, ample, profuse, full, extensive, considerable, substantial, generous, bumper, lavish, fulsome, liberal, bountiful, overflowing, abounding, teeming
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/ˈfo͝olsəm/ /ˈfʊlsəm/


Although the earliest use of fulsome (first recorded in the 13th century) was ‘generous or abundant,’ this meaning is now regarded by some people as wrong. The correct meaning today is held to be ‘excessively complimentary or flattering.’ However, the word is still often used in its original sense of ‘abundant,’ especially in sentences such as she was fulsome in her praise for the people who organized it, and this use can give rise to ambiguity: for one speaker, fulsome praise may be a genuine compliment, while for others it will be interpreted as an insult


Middle English (in the sense ‘abundant’): from full+ -some.