• velutinous •
vê-lut-ên-ês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Velvety, covered with a fine, soft, silky fiber.
Notes: Today's Good Word is one that botanists have been hiding from us for centuries; it is most frequently used to refer to stems, calyxes, and seeds of plants that are fuzzy. For example, at the right you see the velutinous seeds of the soybean. If you have wisteria growing in your yard, you have probably noticed its velutinous seeds in the fall in North American . The rarity of the word has precluded it from much derivation though; should you ever need a noun, either velutinousness or velutinosity will work.
In Play: We come in contact with velutinous vegetation all the time: "I never eat okra because I find all velutinous vegetables repulsive, even when cooked." The question is, of course, whether we need velutinous when we already have velvety: "Miranda's velutinous forearm glittered in fiery scintillae as the sun retreated behind it." I don't know. What do you think?
Word History: Today's Good Word, as you probably have already noticed, is a modest makeover of New Latin velutinus with the same meaning. The Latin adjective comes from velutum "velvet", probably from a Vulgar (street) Latin word villutus with two Ls that haven't survived any written documents. Middle English also had a form veluet "velvet", probably from an Old Provenšal variant of villutus, that became today's velvet. All of these forms are descendants of original Latin villus "shaggy hair, nap", a word botanists and zoologists use to refer to fine tendrils or hairs that grow inside and outside organisms. (Today we thank Dr. Lew Jury for leading this gentle word out of musty old botany books and into the light of the general vocabulary.)
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