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rupestral

Printable Version Pronunciation: ru-pes-trêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Growing on or living among rocks.

Notes: Today's contributor proposed an obsolete synonym of today's word, rupicoline. Our word seems to be currently the more prominent. Another synonym, rupestrine, was used as late as 1999. Rupestral has only one other contemporary relative: rupestrian means "inscribed or painted on rocks", as the rupestrian artwork of the Cro-Magnons found in the caves of Lascaux, France.

In Play: We may widen the sense of "living among rocks" to include people who habitually visit them: "Andover Hand leads a rupestral life built around rock climbing." He is also interested in rupestral animals like mountain goats and picas. We can also widen the sense of rupestrian to include fake stone—concrete and cinder blocks: "Urban rupestrian art (graffiti) has progressed by leaps and bounds over the recent decades."

Word History: Our Good Word today comes from Latin rupes "cliff, crag", from ruptus "broken", the past participle of rumpere "to break". It came from the same root as English rip and rob. Apparently, the original Proto-Indo-European word meant something like "to break or chop off; to take away". A crag looks like a large rock, a part which has broken off and been taken away. "Take away" fits rob and "chop" fits rip in its original sense. The Russian word ruble is of the same provenance, probably because the original Russian coins were chopped off (rubit' in Russian) from a larger piece of silver or gold. (We should chop today's Good Word off here to thank Luke Javan, Grand Panjandrum in the Alpha Agora for suggesting it.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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