Printable Version
Pronunciation: mawd-lin Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Mawkishly emotional, overly sentimental to the point of silliness or tears. 2. Drunk to the point of crying, sobbing.

Notes: We may use this adjective adverbially by simply adding the common adverb suffix -ly: maudlinly. The noun is maudlinism. Both these derivations arose only in the 19th century, whereas today's Good Word is of considerably more ancient descent (see Word History).

In Play: It was recently brought to our attention that the word our Maud Lynn Dresser's name plays on was not in our archives. Today's Good Word repairs that oversight: "Did you see the maudlin response of Maud Lynn Dresser to the announcement that she had won first prize in the sewing competition at the county fair?" All of us get maudlin occasionally: "Don't get maudlin, now, but I remembered our anniversary this year. Here is a little gift."

Word History: Today's Good Word is of impeccable lineage even though today's meaning is rather pejorative. The word has had a long journey in both form and meaning. It is a reduction of Middle English Maudeleyn "(Mary) Magdalene" from Old French Madeleine. French inherited this word from Latin Magdalena, borrowed from Greek Magdalene "(Mary) of Magdala". Magdala was a town on the Sea of Galilee thought to be the birthplace of Mary, a follower of Jesus. The meaning of the word developed from the frequent portrayal of Mary weeping in religious paintings. (Let's not be drawn into a maudlin show of our gratitude to Rob Towart for suggesting today's Good Word; rather, just our sincerest "thank you".)

Dr. Goodword,

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