Monthly Archives: January 2017

What’s in a word?


Rex Tillerson, the former head of Exxon Mobil, recently faced a Senate confirmation hearing to determine his suitability to be President Trump’s Secretary of State.  During this session, Mr. Tillerson said that there would be a “fulsome review” of the United States’ policies on climate change.

When I heard Mr. Tillerson use “fulsome” this way, I immediately cringed.  This is a man, I told myself, who doesn’t know what “fulsome” really means … what kind of negative load this word carries.  When someone receives “fulsome praise”, for example, it connotes remarks that are so glowing, so effusive, that they are distasteful in their excess.

Did I over-react?  Does it really matter if some public figure misuses a word?  Maybe not.  On the other hand, maybe this is the tip of the iceberg.  Maybe we are here getting a flash of how uneducated this person really is.


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