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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A Word A Day — fuliginous

Good morning, Netizens...

March 29, 2013

Word of the Day

  • fuliginous
  • audio pronunciation
  • \fyoo-LIJ-uh-nus\


a : sooty b : obscure, murky
: having a dark or dusky color

Theo's journalism professor encouraged him to eschew fuliginous prose in favor of simple, straightforward language.

"For two weeks he continued his surveying in a fuliginous atmosphere of almost continual fog but then, on 5 August, the mists suddenly cleared, allowing him to make a detailed observation of a solar eclipse (on the appropriately named Eclipse Island, one of the tiny Burgeo Islands)." — From Frank McLynn's 2011 book Captain Cook: Master of the Seas


"Fuliginous" is a word with a dark and dirty past—it derives from "fuligo," the Latin word for "soot." In an early sense (now obsolete), "fuliginous" was used to describe noxious bodily vapors once thought to be produced by organic processes. The "sooty" sense, which English speakers have been using since the early 1620s, can be used to describe everything from dense fogs and malevolent clouds to overworked chimney sweeps. "Fuliginous" can also be used to refer to something dark or dusky, as in Henry James' novel The Ambassadors, in which the character Waymarsh is described as having "dark fuliginous eyes."

From Merriam-Webster Online at



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