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From Old French fust (wood) (modern French fût (cask)), from Latin fūstis (a cudgel). Compare Scots foosty.


  • IPA(key): /fʌsti/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌsti


fusty (comparative fustier, superlative fustiest)

  1. Moldy or musty.
  2. Stale-smelling or stuffy.
    • 1846, Charles Dickens, Pictures from Italy, London: [] Bradbury & Evans, [], →OCLC:
      All up the hills that hem the city in, these houses swarm; and the mites inside were lolling out of the windows, and drying their ragged clothes on poles, and crawling in and out at the doors, and coming out to pant and gasp upon the pavement, and creeping in and out among huge piles and bales of fusty, musty, stifling goods; []
    • 1915, Virginia Woolf, chapter XXIV, in The Voyage Out, London: The Hogarth Press, published 1949, →OCLC:
      You always knew where to find him if he were wanted; he would be in his study with a book. Very likely it would be an old, old book, some fusty old thing that no one else would dream of reading.
    • 1915, W[illiam] Somerset Maugham, chapter XL, in Of Human Bondage, New York, N.Y.: George H[enry] Doran Company, →OCLC:
      A waiter took his box up five flights of stairs, and Philip was shown into a tiny room, fusty from unopened windows, the greater part of which was taken up by a large wooden bed with a canopy over it of red rep; []
  3. (figurative, by extension) Old-fashioned, refusing to change or update.
    Synonyms: oldfangled, outdated; see also Thesaurus:obsolete
    • 2021 May 14, Yi-Ling Liu, “China’s “Involuted” Generation”, in The New Yorker[1]:
      In contrast to exploitation or suppression or even alienation, involution is presented as part of the natural order of things—like bad weather. You can’t point fingers at an abstraction or rally against a fusty term from an anthropology text.
    • 2022 April 26, Stephen Castle, Megan Specia, “U.K. Tabloid Accuses Lawmaker of ‘Basic Instinct’ Move, Highlighting Sexism in Parliament”, in The New York Times[2], →ISSN:
      An anonymously sourced report by one of Britain’s freewheeling tabloid newspapers has sparked a debate over both tabloid journalistic ethics and sexism in Parliament, leading some to question whether the institution is capable of shedding its fusty reputation and becoming an inclusive workplace.
    • 1893, W. S. Gilbert, Utopia, Limited, Act II:
      Oh sweet surprise - oh dear delight
      To find it undisputed quite -
      All musty, fusty rules despite,
      That Art is wrong and Nature right!
    • 1891, Bram Stoker, The Judge's House:
      The image which she had called up was too much for her nerves, and she fled incontinently.
  4. (of wine) Tasting of the cask.
    • 2015, Susan Volland, Mastering Sauces [] [3], W. W. Norton & Company, →ISBN:
      Now consider what happens when that flavor is not fresh lemon but scorched garlic or some fusty wine. Unpleasant flavors are distributed at the same molecular level as good ones.
    • 2018, Caroline Kington, A Tangled Summer, Eye & Lightning Books, →ISBN:
      Alison had a mouthful of warm, rather fusty wine and lay back on the grass, cupping the back of her head in her hand.

Derived terms[edit]