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Slake

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Slake

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:25 pm

• slake •


Pronunciation: slayk • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To quench, to satisfy a thirst for, as to slake a thirst or desire. 2. To reduce or moderate, to relax or slacken, as a pill to slake a pain.

Notes: Although this word has been in circulation for centuries in a host of meanings, its family is not very large. The active adjective is the participle, slaking, though there is a passive adjective slakable carried by few dictionaries because of its rarity. This word today is heard almost exclusively in the phrase 'to slake one's thirst' though it has far more interesting uses. Let's use it before we lose it.

In Play: Anything you can thirst for, may (or may not) be slaked: "One night camping could not slake Marilyn's desire for the outdoors; she bought a complete camping outfit and began planning her summer around it." From this sense, the meaning of slake easily moves to the reduction of the intensity of anything: "Robin Hood tried to slake the roaring campfire with the remainder of the grog in his mug, but the alcoholic beverage had the opposite effect."

Word History: Today's Good Word descended to us from Old English slacian, a verb built on slæc "slack, sluggish". It is hence a close relative of slack. The original Proto-Indo-European root was a rarity exhibiting both a Fickle S and a Fickle N. The initial S appears in derivations in some languages but not others. English slack is based on the same root as Latin laxus (lak-sus) "loose, slack" (whence English lax) and Russian legkiy "light". The same root also produced Latin languere "to be languid", with an N that did not make it to English slack or slake. (We would not wish William Blaisdell to languish for lack of gratitude for submitting today's Good Word—which should help slake our desire for knowledge of the English vocabulary.)
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Re: SLAKE

Postby Slava » Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:42 am

Make that Russian word a plural and you get lights, which in Russian, as in earlier English, means lungs.

Can one slake hunger? Not a hunger for something, as a desire, but the physical need for sustenance? It just doesn't feel as right to say "slake my hunger," as to say "slake my thirst."
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Re: Slake

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:54 pm

Hunger cannot be slaked. It is just not done in the best of circles. One may assuage, remedy, or satisfy hunger, among several fitting verbs. But not slake.

I was taught that one might die from hunger. One perished from thirst. I wonder why.
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Re: Slake

Postby call_copse » Mon Nov 25, 2013 12:05 pm

Quite, although I have never personally been taught to distinguish between appropriate terms indicating expiry.

The only addendum I might make is the main further meaning I know of is to mix with water, ensuring a chemical combination takes place - as in slaked lime, used in lime mortar. I guess that is why it is a liquid oriented term.
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Re: Slake

Postby MTC » Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:37 pm

Perhaps we use slake with liquids because a body of water is embedded within. The power of association may play a part.
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Re: Slake

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:40 am

I believe Tom Sawyer tricked his friends into painting the fence with slaked lime - also called whitewash. I have tried to use a little white wash on occasion. I am better at snow jobs.
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