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Pronunciation: es-kjê-lênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Suitable for eating, edible.

Notes: This word is so delicious itself, it should mean "very much edible" if not "exquisitely delicious", but it is just a more delectable way of saying "edible". The adjective may be used as a noun meaning "an object or substance that is edible", as in a garden full of esculents, but the quality of being edible, edibility, is esculence.

In Play: When the context calls for a more alluring word than edible, we really should turn to this Good Word: "In late summer the forest filled with esculent plants and fruit the children loved to gather and take home to mother." We sometimes forget to what extent esculence depends on the power supply: "After the electricity had been off for a day and a half, nothing esculent remained in the refrigerator."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a modification of Latin esculentus "(for) eating", derived from esca "food", the noun of edere "to eat". The root, ed-/es- in this verb comes from the same source as English eat, German essen, and Russian est', all meaning "to eat". Old Germanic had a derivation fra-etan "eat up" from fra- "completely" + etan "to eat". This remained in most Germanic languages, becoming fressen "to feed" in German and fret in English. (Don't we all overeat when we fret?) The related Latin verb obedere "eat up, eat away (at)", from ob- "(up" + edere, had a past participle, obessus "having eaten away (at)", which English also absorbed as obese. (We hope that this word of thanks to Eric Berntson for suggesting today's Good Word will be to his taste.)

Dr. Goodword,

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