• efflorescence •
e-flê-res-sêns • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: 1. Flowering, blossoming, the flowering season. 2. Slow unfurling or development. 3. Reaching a peak in development, blossoming, reaching fulfillment of a potential. 4. (Chemistry) Bloom, deposits of salts left by evaporation or the process of making such deposits.
Notes: Words with the French suffix -escence, like evanescence, effervescence, and quiescence are lexical flowers themselves; all have a beautiful sound, most corresponding with visually beautiful meanings. Today's word is the noun based on the adjective efflorescent "blooming", which comes from the verb, effloresce.
In Play: Efflorescence originally referred to the blossoming of flowers: "The efflorescence of the azaleas and dogwood coincides every spring with the Azalea Festival in Wilmington." It can also be used in as many figurative senses as English's own blossoming: "Graham's efflorescence into a sterling violinist by the age of twelve surprised everyone who knew that he still could not tie his own shoes."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from a verb, effloresce, borrowed from Latin efflorescere "to bloom", made up of ex "out of" + florescere, an extended form of florer "to blossom". Florer was derived from flos, flor- "flower", found in many Latin borrowings like floral and florist. Older (Proto-Indo-European) words beginning on [bh] (the sound of B with a puff of air) became F at the beginning of Latin words but not in other Indo-European languages. So the FL combination in flor- corresponds to BL in Germanic languages like English, where the same root, with different suffixes, became bloom and blossom. (Our mysterious subscriber JBR is efflorescing into a trove of wonderful words like today's Good Word, which she suggested.)
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