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Middle English fustian, from Old French fustaine, from Medieval Latin fustaneum, probably from Latin fustis ‎(club; (medieval use) tree trunk).


fustian ‎(usually uncountable, plural fustians)

  1. A kind of coarse twilled cotton or cotton and linen stuff.
    • 1882, James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, volume 4, page 568:
      Fustian, of which I have found only one entry before 1401, occurs frequently in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It appears to have been a ribbed cloth.
  2. A class of cloth including corduroy and velveteen.
  3. Pompous, inflated or pretentious writing or speech.
    • Addison
      Claudius [] has run his description into the most wretched fustian.
    • 2014 March 1, Rupert Christiansen, “English translations rarely sing”, The Daily Telegraph (Review), page R19:
      Anything grandiose or historically based tends to sound flat and banal when it reaches English, partly because translators get stuck between contradictory imperatives: juggling fidelity to the original sense with what is vocally viable, they tend to resort to a genteel fustian which lacks either poetic resonance or demotic realism, adding to a sense of artificiality rather than enhancing credibility.


Usage notes[edit]

  • Used in the sense of "pompous" since at least the time of Shakespeare. For this shift of meaning, compare bombast.

See also[edit]