Word: maudlin

Pronunciation: MAHD-lən

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: self-pityingly or tearfully sentimental

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Here’s an interesting word I stumbled across a few weeks ago. I can’t remember exactly where I read it, just that it caught my attention for how poetic it sounded. I don’t usually care for tragic words, but some may consider it fitting for February due to the impending pressure of Valentine’s Day. Here’s hoping you don’t find yourself feeling “maudlin” this month!

To be “maudlin” is to be tearfully or self-pityingly sentimental. The word arose in late Middle English as a noun denoting Mary Magdalene and comes from the Old French name Madeleine. This name derives from the ecclesiastical Latin name Magdalena, also a reference to Mary Magdalene.

It’s easy to see how this adjective evolved from the image of Mary Magdalene, as she was often depicted weeping in religious art. The North American entry for this word in Oxford Dictionaries includes “often through drunkenness” in its definition, though this needn’t necessarily be the cause of such emotion. If your characters ever find themselves in a deep state of self pity or excessive sentimentality, you may want to consider including the word “maudlin” in your stories!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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