Printable Version
Pronunciation: æ-ju-lay-shên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (No plural)

Meaning: 1. Exaggerated admiration, abject adoration. 2. Blind, servile worship; exaggerated and hypocritical praise.

Notes: Adulation is the abstract action noun from the verb adulate. Its meaning lies somewhere between that of admiration and worship. It may proceed from true blind worship or be insincere in the hope of some advantage. Someone who adulates regularly is an adulator who exhibits adulatory behavior (the adjective).

In Play: The first sense of today's Good Word can be expressed like this: "In the movie, 'A Christmas Story', Ralphie turns in his paper on why he wants a bee-bee gun for Christmas and returns to his seat, expecting the adulation of his teacher." In the negative second sense, we may say things like this: "The president lives off the adulation of the toadies he surrounds himself with."

Word History: Today's Good Word was copied from Old French adulacion, inherited from Latin adulatio(n) "a fawning, flattery", the action noun from the verb adulari "to flatter, fawn upon". This verb comprises ad "(up) to" + archaic ula- "tail" (later ura) from PIE ul- "tail", also the source of Sanskrit vara, vala "tail-hair". The original notion would be "to wag the tail" like a fawning dog, parallel to Greek sainein "to wag the tail, to flatter". English soldiers during the Thirty Years' War borrowed German wedeln "wag the tail", hence "fawn, flatter", and converted the sound and meaning of that verb into wheedle.

Dr. Goodword,

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