noun: A habitual faultfinder or complainer.
After Smelfungus, a hypercritical character in Laurence Sterne’s 1768 novel, A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. Earliest documented use: 1807.
Novelist Laurence Sterne modeled his character Smelfungus after traveler and author Tobias Smollett who complained about almost everything in his 1766 travel book Travels through France and Italy. Here’s how Sterne describes Smelfungus:
“The learned Smelfungus travelled from Boulogne to Paris, from Paris to Rome, and so on; but he set out with the spleen and jaundice, and every object he pass’d by was discoloured or distorted. He wrote an account of them, but ’twas nothing but the account of his miserable feelings.”
“And a couple of smellfungus from the Official Paper … carped that Issel chose to jump when the schedule reached its toughest stretch.”
Paige Woody; Issel is the Wrong Scapegoat in Nuggets’ Mess; Denver Post; Feb 13, 1995.