• luxuriant •
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Abundant, sumptuous, lush, growing thickly and profusely. 2. Extravagant, excessive. 3. Excessively florid or elaborate, prolix (writing style).
Notes: Today's good adjective is a variant of luxurious but differs significantly in meaning. While luxurious refers to luxury, that which is excessively expensive, serving pleasure and comfort rather than need, luxuriant refers to excess itself. Thick, lush vegetation may be luxuriant but not luxurious. A home may be luxurious but not luxuriant. The noun for this adjective is luxuriance and the adverb, luxuriantly.
In Play: This Good Word is used when thickness or lushness is intended: "When Barry Knoff saw the luxuriant growth of hair on Manley's chest, he knew that he had lost Mary Chase forever." In terms of writing style, today's word refers to wordiness: "Smedley, I find your autobiographical summary for the annual report a bit luxuriant. Could you pare it down to, say, the length of a short story?"
Word History: Today's adjective comes to us, through French, from Latin luxurian(t)s, the present participle of luxuriare "to be luxuriant". This verb is based on luxuria "luxury, extravagance" from luxus, which meant "luxury" with a long [u] and "dislocated" with a short one. We cannot be sure whether these are two words or variants of an earlier common ancestor. Latin luxuria went on to become Portuguese luxúria, Spanish lujuria, and Italian lussuria, all meaning "lust", continuing the sense of "excess" in the original Latin word.
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