I listened to my beloved legal podcast as I traveled to my vacation spot. (Not declaring the podcast identify, but here’s a hint: Figure it out FOR Oneself.) In talking about an ERISA case, the host talked about a former NFL player’s assert for “fulsome” added benefits.


I involuntarily shuddered when I listened to the expression. He intended “full.”

“Fulsome” is 1 of these problematic terms that, like a contranym, calls for context to realize what the speaker or writer is seeking to say. Confusion can end result. (Just test out the title of this put up.)

“Fulsome” is a bogus friend. It sounds like a extravagant way to say “full” or “complete.” For centuries, the phrase was appropriately applied as a synonym for “disgusting” or “offensive.” But in recent a long time, the word is typically applied to suggest abundant or considerable. So, does the adjective “fulsome” describe some thing good or some thing terrible?

All the things Outdated Is New Once again

In the mid-13th century, individuals applied “fulsome” the way lots of do nowadays, but in far more guttural Center English. That utilization morphed into a reference to explain a individual or animal as plump or properly-fed and then overfed — so a lot so that the final result was offensive or disgusting. A little something “fulsome” was practically nauseating.

But starting in the 1960s, folks began to use the word as it experienced been employed 600 many years earlier, presumably mainly because they incorrectly interpreted it. (There’s that bogus close friend bit once again.) These days men and women regularly use “fulsome” as a synonym for “full.”

Dictionaries display both of those definitions since dictionaries are descriptive instead than prescriptive. (“Offensive” is nevertheless the main definition.) That does not mean you should be careless about how you use this phrase.

What is a Watchful Lawyer to Do?

The NFL player sued to acquire the highest amount of disability benefits less than the program. He needed greater added benefits, a bigger amount of compensation, the comprehensive advantage to which he was entitled. There are several approaches to precisely clarify the claim without the need of making use of the term “fulsome.”

Really do not use ambiguous words and phrases. If you mean “full,” say “full.” If you necessarily mean “offensive,” say “offensive.” Really don’t be tempted to use a fancy phrase when a basic 1 will do.

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