Sunday, November 24, 2013



I subscribe to the Oxford English Dictionary's Word of the Day. Today's word is smellfungus:
Etymology: The name by which Sterne designated Smollett on account of the captious tone of the latter's Travels through France and Italy (1766).

A discontented person; a grumbler, faultfinder. Also attrib.

[1768 L. Sterne Sentimental Journey I.86 The learned Smelfungus travelled from Boulogne to Paris,..but he set out with the spleen and jaundice, and every object he pass'd by was discoloured or distorted.]
1807 Salmagundi 24 Jan. 18 Let the grumbling smellfungi..rail at the extravagance of the age.
1842 F. Trollope Visit to Italy II. xxiii. 380 Smellfungus people, who love to torment themselves.
For the aficionado of odd and rare words, the passage from Frances Trollope also contains an unusual coinage derived from smellfungus, apparently a hapax legomenon, viz. anti-smellfungusite (ellipses in original):
Smellfungus people, who love to torment themselves, will be sure to stand very long before this front; and carefully avoiding to remark the marble richness of its detail, come away at last with the satisfactory conviction that it would be pretty nearly impossible to employ the materials way of finishing one of the most superb Gothic cathedrals in the world. But the more amiable anti-smellfungusites will turn away, as we did, as soon as they have taken a look at it, and either walk round the church, or into the church, or over the church, whichever way they may choose first, taking good care to do it all in turn....and they will be rewarded for their amiability; for they will behold much that is beautiful, and some points that are really glorious....Any thing, indeed, more noble than a well-chosen view of this dazzling marble structure, it is difficult to conceive.


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