• evanescent •
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Fleeting, dissipating softly, tending to evaporate or simply disappear softly into thin air.
Notes: Today's Good Word is the daughter of the verb evanesce and the mother of the noun evanescence. Objects in a fog tend to come in and out of view evanescently, the adverb. There is a softness in the sense of evanescent that enhances the beauty of its sound.
In Play: Because today's Good Word is also one of the most beautiful in the English language, it often finds itself in romantic situations: "The sight of Abby's evanescent breath in the chilly air made Ford's heart race a little faster yet." However, it makes the rounds in others, as well: "You don't realize how evanescent youth really is until you are older."
Word History: Today's Good Word is Latin evanescens "vanishing", the present participle of evanescere "to vanish", barely disguised in English. This Latin verb comprises e(x) "from" + vanescere "to vanish", a verb that also ended up in the English lexicon, a bit more disguised, as vanish. At the root of this verb is the adjective vanus "empty", which shares a source with English wane and vain, each referring to its own kind of emptiness. It is also related to Latin vacare "to be empty", which underlies several English borrowings from Latin, such as vacant, vacation, not to mention vast. (Let's assure Colin Burt that our gratitude for suggesting today's Good Word will not be evanescent.)
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