unctuous

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Medieval Latin unctuōsus (“oily”), from Latin unguere, ungere (to anoint).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈʌnktʃuəs/
  • Hyphenation: unc‧tu‧ous

Adjective[edit]

unctuous (comparative more unctuous, superlative most unctuous)

  1. (of a liquid or fatty substance) Oily or greasy.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick, ch. 96:
      In a word, after being tried out, the crisp, shrivelled blubber, now called scraps or fritters, still contains considerable of its unctuous properties.
  2. (of a wine, coffee, etc.) Rich, lush, intense, with layers of concentrated, soft, velvety flavor.
    • 1872, Bayard Taylor, Beauty and The Beast; and Tales of Home, ch. 3:
      The halls and passages of the castle were already permeated with rich and unctuous smells, and a delicate nose might have picked out and arranged, by their finer or coarser vapors, the dishes preparing for the upper and lower tables.
  3. (by extension, of a person) Profusely polite, especially unpleasantly so and insincerely earnest.
    • 1857, Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers, Volume the Second, page 14 (ISBN 1857150570)
      Then he thoroughly disliked the tone of Mr. Slope's letter; it was unctuous, false, and unwholesome, like the man.
    • 1919, Stephen Leacock, The Hohenzollerns in America, ch. 8:
      In superior circles, however, introduction becomes more elaborate, more flattering, more unctuous.

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