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Fusty

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Fusty

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:53 pm

• fusty •


Pronunciation: fês-tee • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Musty, moldy, stale-smelling, smelling of mildew and decay. 2. Old-fashioned, outdated, antique, characterized by old age and neglect, old-fogeyish.

Notes: This word goes back to a Latin word meaning "stick, cudgel"; some of its relatives retain this sense. For example, fustigate means "to cudgel, beat with a stick". The now defunct noun this adjective comes from, fust, had two meanings, "wine barrel" and "the smell of a moldy wine barrel". The connection between the two will emerge in the Word History. The adverb, should you ever need it, is fustily, and the noun, fustiness.

In Play: Today's Good Word is used most widely to indicate a moldy smell: "For days after the party the frat house was fusty from the stale beer spilled everywhere." However, it can be used in a broadened sense of "old-fashioned, out of style": "In college Andy Belham wasted his time on fusty subjects like Latin and Greek, medieval philosophy, and 17th century literature."

Word History: Middle English picked up this word from Old French fust "piece of wood", and what pieces of wood went into making, "wine cask". Fust passed down from Latin fustis "stick, club, cudgel." Latin fustis comes from the same PIE word that produced bush in English. It also went into the making of beat and all the words related to it, such as batter, baste, and the verb butt. (The Latin word battuere "beat, strike", which is given in many dictionaries as the immediate source of batter, was borrowed from a Germanic language.) As mentioned before, today's Good Word is unrelated to fustian. (We can thank Margie Sved, whose vocabulary is always fresh and never fusty, for today's Good Word.)
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Re: Fusty

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:02 pm

A rhyme for musty with much the same meaning but completely different etymology. Musty comes from moisty, which is now obsolete but came from moist.
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Re: Fusty

Postby MTC » Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:41 am

Sylvia Plath used "fusty" in the memorable opening lines of The Bell Jar:

"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York. I'm stupid about executions. The idea of being electrocuted makes me sick, and that's all there was to read about in the papers - goggle-eyed headlines staring up at me on every street corner and at the fusty, peanut-smelling mouth of every subway. It had nothing to do with me, but I couldn't help wondering what it would be like, being burned alive all along your nerves.
I thought it must be the worst thing in the world."

"(T)he fusty, peanut-smelling mouth of every subway, " how could you forget the words? Many years later and I still remember.
Last edited by MTC on Fri Jul 12, 2013 7:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fusty

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:35 am

I suppose one could say
"This is musty and fusty", meaning really bad news.
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Re: Fusty

Postby Slava » Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:18 am

How about a "musty, fusty, crusty old codger"?
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Re: Fusty

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Jul 12, 2013 12:02 pm

You talkin' 'bout moi???
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Re: Fusty

Postby gailr » Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:35 pm

Slava wrote:How about a "musty, fusty, dusty, crusty old codger"?

Your post, I fix it. :wink:
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Re: Fusty

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:46 pm

Gail: "You done quit preachin' n' gone to meddlin’." As per requests to translate foreign phrases, this means, “You are hitting uncomfortably close to home.”
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Re: Fusty

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Jul 13, 2013 11:01 am

She hit me right proper, however.
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Re: Fusty

Postby gailr » Sun Jul 14, 2013 12:26 pm

That wasn't directed at anyone; I just saw a missing rhyme. :)
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Re: Fusty

Postby Slava » Sun Jul 14, 2013 12:48 pm

How about a "fussy, musty, fusty, rusty-jointed, crusty, dusty, curmudgeonly old codger"?
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Re: Fusty

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Jul 14, 2013 2:00 pm

And now Slava has me pegged.
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