1 a : a strong cotton and linen fabric
2 : high-flown or affected writing or speech; broadly : anything high-flown or affected in style
Did You Know?
Fustian first entered English in the 13th century, by way of Anglo-French, as a term for a kind of fabric. (Its ultimate Latin source is probably the word fustis, meaning "tree trunk.") Several centuries into use as a noun and an attributive noun, fustian spread beyond textiles to describe pretentious writing or speech. Christopher Marlowe was a pioneer in the word's semantic expansion: in his 16th-century play Doctor Faustus, he employs the word in this new way when the student Wagner says, "Let thy left eye be diametarily [sic] fixed upon my right heel, with quasi vestigiis nostris insistere," and the clown replies, "God forgive me, he speaks Dutch fustian." And later, the titular doctor himself is called "Dr. Fustian" repeatedly by a horse dealer—an apt misnomer considering the Doctor's speech habits.
"In 1798, William Wordsworth arrived from Bristol at the cottage of his friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge…. Twenty-five years later, William Hazlitt, who was also in residence at the time, still remembered his first sight of the future poet laureate, a tall 'Don Quixote-like' figure, quaintly dressed in a brown fustian jacket and striped pantaloons." — Rachel Cook, The Guardian, 14 Apr. 2020
"The last couple of Lyric 'Rigoletto' productions have ranged from muddled to disastrous, but this one, using handsome sets that originated at the San Francisco Opera in 1997 and deftly staged by revival director E. Loren Meeker, works to tell the story directly, without fuss or fustian." — John von Rhein, The Chicago Tribune, 9 Oct. 2017
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