monstrously plump

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Couch Tomato, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Couch Tomato

    Couch Tomato Senior Member

    Russian & Dutch
    Next day, an asthmatic woman, coarsely painted, garrulous, garlicky, with an almost farcical Provençal accent and a black mustache above a purple lip, took me to what was apparently her own domicile, and there, after explosively kissing the bunched tips of her fat fingers to signify the delectable rosebud quality of her merchandise, she theatrically drew aside a curtain to reveal what I judged was that part of the room where a large and unfastidious family usually slept. It was now empty save for a monstrously plump, sallow, repulsively plain girl of at least fifteen with red-ribboned thick black braids who sat on a chair perfunctorily nursing a bald doll.
    (Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov)

    Isn't monstrously plump a bit of a contradiction? I interpret 'monstrously' as

    3 unnatural or ugly and frightening SYN hideous :
    He was ugly and monstrously fat.
    (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English)

    But then 'plump' seems to have a positive meaning:

    1 slightly fat in a fairly pleasant way – used especially about women or children, often to avoid saying the word ‘fat’ :
    (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English)

    What do you think? Can you describe someone as being plump in a way in which it isn't pleasant?

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. MuttQuad

    MuttQuad Senior Member

    New York, NY
    English - AmE
    >>What do you think? Can you describe someone as being plump in a way in which it isn't pleasant?<<

    The phrase about which you're inquiring does just that.
     
  3. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Well, "plump", alone, has reasonably (though not entirely) positive overtones.

    But if you add "monstrously" to it, you immediately turn it into a negative.

    Let's take another example:
    He is tall (neutral)
    He is monstrously tall
    :)eek:)
     
  4. Couch Tomato

    Couch Tomato Senior Member

    Russian & Dutch
    Thank you, MuttQuad and Loob.
     

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