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arborescent

Printable Version Pronunciation: ahr-bê-re-sênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Like a tree, resembling a tree. 2. Having many branches, branching manifoldly.

Notes: The noun, like all those ending on this suffix, is created by simply adding the sound -s, which is then spelled arborescence. (If you listen closely, you will hear that the word actually ends with the sounds [ts]). The adverb is arborescently. Remember that the [s] sound in this word is spelled SC and you should encounter no problems in its use.

In Play: Although this Good Word is as beautiful as any English word ending on the lovely French suffix -scent, there are few things in this world that look like trees aside from trees: "Minnie Pearl came back from the beauty parlor with an arborescent coiffure." However, this word also refers to anything that branches like a tree: "From space, the Mississippi River reveals itself as an arborescent system of creeks and rivers that drains the central United States."

Word History: Today's Good Word came to us from French but goes back to Latin arborescens, the present participle of arborescere "to grow into a tree", from arbor "tree". Where arbor itself came from is a bit of a problem. The best guess is that it came from the same root as Latin arduus "high", from the original root *ardh- "high, to grow", the breathy [dh] somehow converting to [b]. This stem turned up in Russian as rasti "to grow" after the A and R switched places. (Today's Good Word grew out of a suggestion from Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, the Brazilian Dude in the Alpha Agora.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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