• deliquescent •
Pronunciation: de-lê-kwe-sênt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Melting away, disappearing as if by melting, dissolving by absorbing moisture from the air. 2. Liquefying during the process of decomposition.
Notes: This beautiful adjective is the daughter of the verb deliquesce and the mother of the noun deliquescence. You may use it as an adverb with the appropriate suffix: deliquescently. I'm sure you are wondering by now what the difference is between deliquescence and simple liquescence. Liquescence is simple melting while deliquescence is melting away and disappearing.
In Play: Unless you talk a lot about salts, the quintessential deliquescent mineral, today's Good Word will be more useful in its metaphorical senses: "When William Arami learned that his fiancée was far less wealthy than he had thought, his dreams of building his own business suddenly seemed distant and deliquescent." If we step a little farther out, we might say, "Senator Rockbottom's brain seems to be deliquescent from all the hot air in the Senate chamber."
Word History: This Good Word is taken from the present participle of the verb deliquescere, composed of the prefix de- "from" + liqu- "liquid" + escere, a verbal suffix. The root of this word, liqu- turns up in several words in English, including liquor and licorice (or liquorice). Liquor meant only "liquid, fluid" in Latin. (My, how the meaning has changed!) Licorice has a more interesting story. The Latin word for licorice was liquiritia, taken from Greek glukyrrhiza "sweet root" composed of glukus + rrhiza. (English glucose is a remake of glykus.) So the ancient Greeks and Romans enjoyed the pleasures of the licorice flavor, having discovered the root of the licorice plant. (We hope the flow of Good Word suggestions from Larry Brady, the Stargazer of the Alpha Agora, and Colin Burt never deliquesces.)
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This word reminds me of another found on Popsicle wrappers years ago; perhaps it still is today. They were billed as a "quiescently frozen confection". Perhaps they went from quiescent to deliquescent fi left out of the freezer?
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