Fusty means full of dust and unpleasant smells; very old-fashioned. Fusty most likely derives from the Middle English word foist (wine cask), which in turn derives from the Medieval Latin word fustis (tree trunk or wood).
Fusty originally meant that the wine was so old it had the task of the cask and over time came to describe musty, damp places and then to mean anything that lost it’s freshness and interest. In many ways fusty and musty mean the same thing, but fusty, in my mind, is just a bit worse, a little older and staler and slightly more damp and moist. Fusty can be very physical but I think it can be applied to attitudes/mindsets as well since one can have very rigidly old-fashioned ideas about things and really dampen the mood when they insist on sharing (foisting) them with (upon) others.
Miss Havisham from Great Expectations is an ideal example of fusty…shudder…
Fusty is another one of those absolutely fantastic description words that I love to throw around. I mean fusty just sounds, well, fusty. Whenever I hear the word fusty, my mind almost immediately thinks of Miss Havisham from Great Expectations – everything about her is fusty, from her stuck-in-time home, decaying wedding dress, and her unraveling, yet obsessive, madness for revenge. What do you think of fusty things, places, or people?
Namaste ~ Ella
** If there’s a word you’d like to see added to the Word Nerd roster, please feel free to contact me or suggest it in the comments – I enjoy feedback and recommendations!