"limp" or "flaccid" or possibly "spongy"

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Senior Member
Hello all,

Charles Lamb, as merry and enterprising a fellow as you will meet in a month of Sundays, unfettered the informal essay with his memorable Old China and Dream's Children. There follows an informal essay that ventures even beyond Lamb's frontier, indeed, "informal" may not be quite the right word to describe this essay; "limp" or " flaccid" or possibly "spongy" are perhaps more appropriate.
source: 5.Love is a Fallacy

The translation that follows the essay treats the three adjectives as something like "easy-minded" , "soft" (why soft?)or flexible.
According to the previous "informal" sentence, I feel the three are basically saying the essay with their literal meanings: it may not be so perfect and even has some flaws, (but it is an essay.)

What do they mean here?

Many many thanks.

ETID typos
Last edited:
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    An essay is meant to be a tightly-woven argument (to use a different metaphor) to support a proposition, not something that is full of holes (spongy) or something that is limp or flaccid and incapable of supporting anything.

    All three terms are figurative, and although none of them are common in modern English (I imagine this is from a couple of hundred years ago, since it refers to Charles Lamb), we might well use "woolly" for a weakly-presented argument in an essay today.
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