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Ballet or bust?

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#16 dirac


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Posted 19 August 2009 - 05:43 PM

I never said that usage does not change - it happens all the time, as the history of the word under discussion indicates. My point was that pejorative meanings of the word remain the 'correct' ones, and if a student submitting a term paper, for example, uses fulsome in the positive sense, he runs the risk of getting a rap on the knuckles from his teacher or at the very least making a poor impression. The dictionary should help guide such a student so he can make an informed decision, at least in my view. There has been a trend since the middle of the last century for dictionaries to be less 'judgmental', since technically there is no such thing as 'proper' and 'improper' usage, only what is standard, and that is what I had in mind when I posted. I hope this is clear.

It may well be that eventually the word will come full circle, but as far as I know that has not happened yet and in my experience when I see 'fulsome' employed in educated formal writing, it is used in the negative sense.

I apologize again to all for having inadvertently pulled the thread so far off the track in my irritation with Merriam-Webster. :(

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