• imbricate •
Pronunciation: im-brê-kayt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, Adjective
Meaning: To overlap in a regular pattern, as roof tiles and fish scales are imbricated (or imbricate).
Notes: The adjective for this pattern is spelled the same as the verb, imbricate; however, the vowel in the final syllable is reduced to give us [im-brê-kêt]. This adjective makes it possible to lay tiles imbricately (the adverb) by overlapping their ends and sides to prevent water leakage.
In Play: Though the most obvious locations of imbricate patterns are fish and rooftops, we need not limit ourselves: "Sturgis imbricated his fingers and perched his chin on them, pretending to listen to the complaints of the plant manager." This word has its place in fashion, too: "Maud Lynn Dresser arrived at the party imbricated in an ensemble of varicolored scarves and sweaters that left the impression the circus had come to town."
Word History: Today's Good Word is our version of Latin imbricatus "covered with roof (rain) tiles" from imbricate "to tile a roof". This verb was made from the noun imbrex, imbric- "roof (rain) tile", a noun based on imber "rain". The curved roof tiles of many European cities are still known in architectural circles as imbrices, whose singular is imbrex). (Today's Good Word is yet another contribution from the intricately imbricate mind of our South African friend, Chris Stewart.)