adjective1 a : not pure : tainted b : not bright and new : seedy c : trite, hackneyed 2 : infested with eggs or young larvae of a blowfly
“This is a mighty simple movie, with its flyblown wisdom spelled out.” — Pauline Kael, The New Yorker, November 2, 1987
“The landscape of ‘The Rover’ is an arid, flyblown sandpit. We see a guarded container car train with Chinese markings clank across the horizon…. A vastness of tarmac roads connects nasty clusters of buildings that don’t add up to towns.” — Colin Covert, Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), June 20, 2014
Did you know?
One meaning of “blow” (used mostly, it seems, by 17th century entomologists) is “to deposit eggs or larvae on”—hence the blowfly, which lays its eggs on meat or wounds. “Flyblown” has its origins in the very unpleasant image of a blowfly’s victim, and it’s from this literal meaning that the more common senses come. Phrases such as “flyblown shack” and “flyblown restaurant” still suggest the actual presence of flies, if not necessarily their embryonic precursors.