There are words which somehow people think mean the opposite of what Mr. Webster states about them in his big book.
For instance, enervate. It means to deprive of strength, to enfeeble. Yet many people think it means the opposite–to pep up.
Another is fulsome, meaning coarse, sickening, repulsive, disgusting.
But many persons believe it means the reverse–flattering or adulatory.
Onetime adman Jack Smalley wrote a commercial for a wine account
describing a product as "fulsome in flavor." Pat Bishop recorded it and
it was broadcast for several weeks–until a university prof suggested
someone consult the dictionary.
HORRIFIED, Jack withdrew the commercial and since that time has brooded over the world.
Whenever he found it improperly used by others he felt a little better but his error left a wound.
A few days ago, however, Jack came upon this sentence by that master of
English, W. Somerset Maugham, in the introduction to "The Portable
"Fancy not knowing that a writer will accept fulsome praise as only his
due, but will grizzle and grieve over a hint of imperfection as though
his publisher had gypped him, his wife betrayed him and his son gone
into the movies."
He says the last sting has been drawn.
the mad, gay social whirl becomes more than a person can take, even for
a gal who gets around, as does Mary O’Brien, the advertising lady at
station 33 miles east of Barstow Tuesday, Jan. 16, with a reception and
luncheon to follow. The event is being sponsored, among others, by the
Barstow and Mojave Valley Chambers (of Commerce).
It sounded very provocative, but Mary has sent her regrets.
ONE OF MY operatives on bat-cave patrol came upon two soiled gentlemen discussing a certain police officer.
"Aw, what did he ever do?" snarled one.
"For one thing, he arrested you," replied the other.
"Well, he better not take all the credit for that, he better spread it
around," said the first. "I been arrested by four or five other guys,
too, you know."
at a party got to discussing unaccountable things that happen–strange
noises in the night, disappearance of objects, weird experiences
involving life and death, and so on. Some attributed them to
coincidence or natural causes, others to psychic phenomena and
A woman who had listened intently but contributed nothing to the
discussion finally got her chance. "I have a strange power myself," she
said. "I attract wrong numbers on the telephone."
ONLY IN L.A. — Kendis
Rochlen’s car stalled on Santa Monica Boulevard near La Cienega and a
mink-coated woman at the wheel of a 1958 Cadillac behind her leaned on
her horn then swung out and around her. As she passed she yelled, "Why
don’t you get out of the way–I’m late to work!" Kendis couldn’t help
thinking it must have been nice work.
— Who says the dollar isn’t worth more than it used to be? A woman
flying back from Las Vegas had to pay nearly $3 for an overweight
bag–in which she had placed 50 silver dollars… Between editions, the
rewrite boys worked out this definition of a pundit: a man with a
plethora of opinion, a paucity of information and a ptypewriter… Ivan
Cazier of Arcadia inquires, "What about the Dodgers playing at Santa
Anita?" At least there’s plenty of parking space.
Jack Smalley needn’t have worried. Here’s the story on ‘fulsome’: http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/fulsome
–A bit late for Mr. Smalley and Mr. Weinstock. But thanks!