like obsequious, but for gratitude
May 16, 2006 12:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a word that is like "obsequious", but has more to do with gushing gratitude -- to the point of being obnoxious -- rather than compliance and approval-seeking.

I have a coach who is always so thankful that we all show up, participate, etc., even to the point of being grateful for things that are commonplace and expected as part of the sport. "Grateful" doesn't quite express the over-the-top fawning-like quality of his particular brand of gratitude. Any ideas?
posted by toomanyplugs to Writing & Language (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by boo_radley at 12:15 PM on May 16, 2006

posted by cerebus19 at 12:15 PM on May 16, 2006

posted by alms at 12:16 PM on May 16, 2006

posted by ganseki at 12:16 PM on May 16, 2006

Toadying wouldn't go from coach (position of power) to student, would it? There's always a connotation of lick-spittling that goes along withy toadying, isn't there?

Maybe condescending, too.
posted by boo_radley at 12:18 PM on May 16, 2006

It's not just fawnling-like, it's fawning!

Sycophantic is party there.

Unctuous may be applicable: "Characterized by affected, exaggerated, or insincere earnestness."

I wouldn't go with toadying, as there's an impled sucking up to superiors, and the students aren't the teacher's superiors. A student thanking a teacher endlessly is toadying. The reverse is too unusual to get a dedicated name.
posted by GuyZero at 12:19 PM on May 16, 2006

posted by cerebus19 at 12:20 PM on May 16, 2006

Today's word of the day us "fulsome: offensive from excess of praise."
posted by sevenless at 12:20 PM on May 16, 2006

posted by sevenless at 12:20 PM on May 16, 2006

While close, fulsome is probably more accurate in this context than unctuous, with the latter having an implication of oiliness and insincerity.
posted by GuyZero at 12:23 PM on May 16, 2006

I've used this word to describe what you're saying:

ef·fu·sive (i fyÁÆsiv), adj.
1. unduly demonstrative; lacking reserve: effusive greetings; an effusive person.
2. pouring out; overflowing.
posted by Lillitatiana at 12:23 PM on May 16, 2006

ingratiating might be the closest to what I'm thinking about. Here's an example to clarify:

picture the customer-service rep that goes out of their way to apologize for whatever issue you're calling about, almost to the point of slowing down a resolution of the issue because all they do is apologize (Obsequious). Now picture that same kind of emotion, but for gratitude, instead of apology.

Ingratiate is close, but that, to me at least, connotes ass-kissing, which I'm not really trying to get at. More of a teeny-bopper saccharine-like feeling, I guess.

On preview: wow, you guys can all shoot these out faster than I can comment! The key is that it's not really insincere. It's almost too sincere.
posted by toomanyplugs at 12:24 PM on May 16, 2006

Effusive, I think, wins it. Thanks, Lillitatiana! (and everyone else!)
posted by toomanyplugs at 12:25 PM on May 16, 2006

I agree that "fulsome" seems appropriate.

But beware this cautionary note: "Fulsome is often used to mean 'offensively flattering or insincere.' But the word is also used, particularly in the expression fulsome praise, to mean simply 'abundant,' without any implication of excess or insincerity. This usage is etymologically justified but may invite misunderstandings in contexts in which a deprecatory interpretation could be made. The sentence I offer you my most fulsome apologies may raise an eyebrow, where the use of an adjective like full or abundant would leave no room for doubt as to the sincerity of the speaker's intentions."
posted by brain_drain at 12:27 PM on May 16, 2006

Overappreciative is clunky, true, but it is a word in common use and it means exactly what you're looking for. Well, it's not quite extreme enough, but it's close.

Cloyingly overappreciative.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:30 PM on May 16, 2006

Unctuous: Characterized by affected, exaggerated, or insincere earnestness.

I always think of Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice when I hear words like these.
posted by invisible ink at 12:55 PM on May 16, 2006

Ah Mr Collins, one of the greatest characters ever.

The problem with "effusive" is that it really doesn't carry that obnoxious connotation. Maybe just "gushy"?
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:54 PM on May 16, 2006

Agree with CunningLinguist; "fawning" really is a better word. Effusive doesn't carry a negative connotation.
posted by furiousthought at 2:15 PM on May 16, 2006

I think being effusive can be a positive thing. Fawning is better.

Under "fawn," Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary says:
fawn, toady, truckle, cringe, cower mean to behave abjectly before a superior. fawn implies seeking favor by servile flattery or exaggerated attention waiters fawning over a celebrity. toady suggests the attempt to ingratiate oneself by an abjectly menial or subservient attitude toadying to his boss. truckle implies the subordination of oneself and one's desires or judgment to those of a superior truckling to a powerful lobbyist. cringe suggests a bowing or shrinking in fear or servility a cringing sycophant. cower suggests a display of abject fear in the company of threatening or domineering people cowering before a bully
posted by grouse at 2:40 PM on May 16, 2006

2 cents: unctuous is the word you're after.
posted by xod at 2:48 PM on May 16, 2006

My vote's for unctuous.
(Maybe it's not getting majority approval here because it sounds funny?)

posted by Rash at 3:02 PM on May 16, 2006

I would use smarmy.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 3:05 PM on May 16, 2006

2 cents: unctuous is the word you're after.

I would differ on this. The literal meaning of "unctuous" is oily, which means that it has connotations of slickness and insincerity. Looking at, it's difficult to find a word that has the connotation of "excess gratitude," but not the connotation of insincerity. "Laudatory" might work in this context as a term meaning "praising somebody to excess," even though it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with gratitude.

Other possibilities from might be: encomiastic, panegyrical, adulatory, ingratiating, approbatory, cloying, saccharine.
posted by jonp72 at 3:10 PM on May 16, 2006

Smarmy's good too. But maybe fawning's better then unctious or smarmy as they're more about overall obsequious behavior, rather than a gratitudinal situation.
posted by Rash at 3:11 PM on May 16, 2006

smarmy definitely connotes a person who is obviously insincere, but doesn't realize this insincerity is apparent.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 3:29 PM on May 16, 2006

posted by Count Ziggurat at 3:31 PM on May 16, 2006

Almost sounds a little maudlin.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:35 PM on May 16, 2006

The literal meaning of "unctuous" is oily

ah! now i know why the old name for last rites is "extreme unction"... i guess the priest anoints you with oil. you learn something new every day!
posted by joeblough at 5:17 PM on May 16, 2006

Mr. Collns? Unctuous? I would have said he took the whole social setup far too seriously to be unctuous (which is what makes him such a great comic character).

Uriah Heep, on the other hand....
posted by IndigoJones at 5:36 AM on May 17, 2006

Another vote against "effusive" because it does not have negative connotations.
posted by alms at 8:46 AM on May 17, 2006

I say smarmy.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:59 AM on May 17, 2006

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