fus·​ty ˈfə-stē How to pronounce fusty (audio)
fustier; fustiest
British : impaired by age or dampness : moldy
: saturated with dust and stale odors : musty
: rigidly old-fashioned or reactionary
fustily adverb
fustiness noun

Did you know?

Fusty probably derives from the Middle English word foist, meaning "wine cask," which in turn traces to the Medieval Latin word fustis, meaning "tree trunk" or "wood." So how did fusty end up meaning "old-fashioned"? Originally, it described wine that had gotten stale from sitting in the cask for too long; fusty literally meant that the wine had the "taste of the cask." Eventually any stale food, especially damp or moldy food, was called "fusty." Those damp and moldy connotations were later applied to musty places, and later still to anything that had lost its freshness and interest—that is, to anything old-fashioned.

Choose the Right Synonym for fusty

malodorous, stinking, fetid, noisome, putrid, rank, fusty, musty mean bad-smelling.

malodorous may range from the unpleasant to the strongly offensive.

malodorous fertilizers

stinking and fetid suggest the foul or disgusting.

prisoners were held in stinking cells
the fetid odor of skunk cabbage

noisome adds a suggestion of being harmful or unwholesome as well as offensive.

a stagnant, noisome sewer

putrid implies particularly the sickening odor of decaying organic matter.

the putrid smell of rotting fish

rank suggests a strong unpleasant smell.

rank cigar smoke

fusty and musty suggest lack of fresh air and sunlight, fusty also implying prolonged uncleanliness, musty stressing the effects of dampness, mildew, or age.

a fusty attic
the musty odor of a damp cellar

Example Sentences

The trunk was full of fusty clothing. couldn't stay too long in the fusty attic without sneezing
Recent Examples on the Web Once considered fusty and unfashionable, boutonnieres and other floral adornments are enjoying a renaissance. Lindsay Talbot Trent Davis Bailey Delphine Danhier Flowers By Joshua Werber, New York Times, 13 Sep. 2022 His sons, who have had to grow up with a cannier and more transactional understanding of celebrity, will continue to make Charles look fusty by comparison. Vulture, 8 Sep. 2022 Teams in the league play Twenty20, a television-friendly, three-hour version of the game that has eclipsed the multiple-day Test match format, which had given cricket its fusty and pedestrian image. Mike Jakeman, New York Times, 1 Nov. 2022 An early investor named Pascal Gauthier came to believe that a fusty mentality was hindering the company’s growth. Steven Levy, WIRED, 6 Dec. 2022 Even Lord’s, the venerable cricket ground in London, has been forced at times to relax its fusty dress code, most recently in mid-July when patrons were not required to wear jackets in the unprecedented heat. New York Times, 4 Aug. 2022 Of course, the news out of Facebook and Meta and recent days has been all about the fusty, 18-year-old legacy app. Andy Meek, BGR, 31 July 2022 Gone are the clapboard shutters and fusty colonial style of the common areas, which have been upgraded to embody a lighter, 1960s vibe of patterned fabrics and polished Carrara marble. Paul Winner, Travel + Leisure, 17 Apr. 2022 For Rihanna, now in her third trimester of pregnancy, fusty notions of maternity wear were an easy target. Chioma Nnadi, Vogue, 12 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fusty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


probably alteration of Middle English foisted, foist musty, from foist wine cask, from Anglo-French fust, fuist wood, tree trunk, cask, from Medieval Latin fustis

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fusty was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near fusty

Cite this Entry

“Fusty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fusty. Accessed 31 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


fus·​ty ˈfəs-tē How to pronounce fusty (audio)
fustier; fustiest
: full of dust and stale odors : musty
: very old-fashioned
fustily adverb
fustiness noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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