• drool •
Pronunciation: drul • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: 1. Slobber, drivel, salivate excessively until the saliva runs out of the mouth. 2. Exhibit excessive envy or desire. 3. (British) Talk drivel, nonsense.
Notes: Today's word, as the Word History will show, is a dialectal variant of drivel, so these two words share several meanings. In the US drivel has remained, by and large, a noun meaning "nonsense". Drool, on the other hand, is used mostly in the sense of actually drooling, or figuratively drooling with excessive envy or desire. Drool comes with a personal noun, drooler, and an action noun, drooling. It is a regular verb.
In Play: Whenever I hear this word I am reminded of the drool-bucket episode with Michael Palin on Saturday Night Live: a senile man who constantly drools has a small detachable pail on his head positioned to catch his drool and a lackey who periodically empties it. Of course, today this word is used more in the metaphorical sense; "Stop drooling over Cally Pidgian, Phil: she is out of your class."
Word History: Today's Good Word is an intriguing oddity: it is a dialectal contraction of the noun drivel that took on a life of its own. Drivel comes from Old English dreflian "to dribble, run at the nose, or slobber", but the trail ends there. This word is rather obviously related to drip, dribble, and drop (liquid), though no relationship has been firmly established. (Today we thank Kathleen McCune of Norway, who just drools over delicious words like today's Good One.)