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early 15c., "publish a 'thundering' denunciation," from Latin fulminatus, past participle of fulminare "hurl lightning, lighten," from fulmen (genitive fulminis) "lightning flash," related to fulgere "to shine, flash," from PIE *bhleg- "to shine, flash," from root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn" (see bleach (v.)). Metaphoric sense (the original sense in English) is via its use in reference to a formal ecclesiastical censure. Related: Fulminated; fulminating.