Got a lush garden or, better still, a lush gardener? Tim Bowen takes a look at this simply luscious Word of the week.
The origin of lush is uncertain although it may be related to luscious, meaning both ‘very attractive’ and ‘delicious’. Lush itself has several meanings. The first usually refers to vegetation. A lush plant is one that is very green and healthy, while lush can also be used to describe places where such plants grow in abundance - lush gardens, a lush park.
The word can also apply to a singing voice, as in ‘I was impressed by the lead singer’s lush vocals’ and ‘the movie has a really lush score’, meaning extremely pleasant to listen to. Perhaps as an alternative to plush (meaning ‘expensive, attractive and comfortable’), lush can also be applied to places such as hotels, restaurants and other accommodation, as in a lush five-star hotel. This meaning could give rise to some misunderstandings as in American English lush can also be used as a synonym for ‘drunkard’, as in ‘Peter’s a bit of a lush. He drinks a couple of bottles of wine with his lunch’. Finally, in informal use, lush can also mean ‘sexually attractive’, as in ‘the lush-lipped actress’.