• pullulate •
Pronunciation: pUl-yê-leyt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive
Meaning: 1. To burgeon prolifically, to sprout in many buds or seedlings, as deciduous trees and shrubs pullulate in the spring. 2. To reproduce or abound in great numbers, to teem with, as an island pullulating with a large penguin population.
Notes: Today's Good Word is a youthful word expressing birth, regeneration, and growth. The noun is pullulation and the adjective is pullulative, though the British seem to prefer pullulant, as a pollulant world of new technology.
In Play: We have many expressions for flowers in full bloom in the spring. This is a word for that stage when all those flowers are just budding: "It was that time of the year when the dogwood and azaleas were pullulating in the promise of a glorious spring." But the real beneficiaries of this Good Word are fishermen and hunters: "I know a lake just pullulating with walleye!" (Just hope your fishing buddies pack a dictionary in their tackle box.)
Word History: Today's word comes from the past participle, pullulatus, of the Latin verb pullulare "to sprout, issue, put forth". This verb is based on the noun pullulus "a very young animal or plant," diminutive of pullus "a young animal or plant". If a pullet just crossed the road in your mind, you are right on target: pullet came from the same Latin root. The original root also produced pau- "little, few," which we see in pauper "poor" and the name Paul (Latin Paullus). In English and other Germanic languages the Proto-Indo-European [p] became [f]. Since [u] and [w] often change places, we are not surprised that English has a related word, few. (Today's is but one of the myriad of words constantly pullulating in the minds of Lyn Laboriel and Lew Jury. We thank them for suggesting it.)
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