Crepitation

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Dr. Goodword
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Crepitation

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Feb 21, 2020 8:49 pm

• crepitation •


Pronunciation: kre-pê-tay-shên • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. Crackling sound. 2. Rattling sound, such as the sound made by the crepitaculum of a rattlesnake.

Notes: In the medical world, crepitation is called crepitus and a rattlesnake rattle is known as a crepitaculum (plural crepitacula). Today's Good Word is actually based on the verb crepitate "to crackle", which also has an adjective, crepitant, except, again, in medicine, where the adjective is crepitous.

In Play: Crepitation is all around us: "The crepitation of the campfire grew and blended with the softer crepitation of the wind playing with the autumn leaves." We even have occasion to use it in bad weather: "Martha didn't have to look out the window to check the weather; she could hear the crepitation of the rain on the window panes."

Word History: This English word was based on crepitatus, the past participle of the Latin verb crepitare "to creak, crackle". This verb is the frequentative of crepare "to crack, creak", created by Latin from the PIE root ker-/kor- "to cry hoarsely", source also of Latin corvus "raven", Greek korax "raven" and korone "crow", Lithuanian krauklys "raven", Dutch kraai "crow", German Krähe "crow", and English crow. It also underlies crane and German Kran "crane". It sometime appears with metathesis (the vowel and R trade places), sometimes without. (We now thank Robert Jordan for recommending today's absolutely fascinating Good Word.)
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LukeJavan8
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Re: Crepitation

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Feb 22, 2020 1:05 pm

Tree branch tapping on a window. Often seen in horror movies.
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gwray
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Re: Crepitation

Postby gwray » Mon Feb 24, 2020 3:29 pm

As the husband of a nurse and as a person who has taken first aid, I have mostly heard of crepitus in the context of broken bones, arthritic joints, stab wounds, and pneumonia. Hence for me, the word has a forlorn aspect, and I would be unlikely to associate it with pleasant things like rustling leaves or crackling campfires. The tapping of a branch on a window is another story (thanks Luke), which evokes E.A. Poe's The Raven.

I have not until now heard crepitation or crepitus used in any context other than medical. I would be interested in knowing if others have heard it more generally used in more positive connotations.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver Proverbs 25:11

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Re: Crepitation

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Feb 25, 2020 12:34 pm

da nada, gwray.
I too would be interested in hearing of other uses.
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Re: Crepitation

Postby bnjtokyo » Tue Feb 25, 2020 8:23 pm

I searched lots of books using the ngram viewer and found only one non-biological use of "crepitation":
"The waves began to be stilled by the large snow-flakes that fell unmelted on their surface; and, as the breeze died away into a murmur, a low crepitation, like the clicking of a death-watch, announced the sea was freezing."
Thalia: A Tale of the Antarctic, Vol. 5 by James Croxall Palmar
But it turns out Mr Palmer was an assistant surgeon on a US navy vessel so he was probably familiar with the word from a medical context.
http://archives.dickinson.edu/people/ja ... -1811-1883
https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?c ... on%3B%2Cc0

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LukeJavan8
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Re: Crepitation

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Feb 25, 2020 8:52 pm

thanks
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Re: Crepitation

Postby damoge » Wed Feb 26, 2020 12:28 pm

I have no literary citation, just the memory of childhood, hearing the word in the phrase "the crepitation of paper", usually around birthday time when swags were hung as part of the celebration. I thought it meant the sound of crepe paper.
Oh well, we don't always get it right just from context.
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Re: Crepitation

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Feb 27, 2020 12:22 pm

I like the crepe paper analogy.
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Philip Hudson
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Re: Crepitation

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Mar 04, 2020 12:00 am

Do crepes suzette crepitate?
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

David Myer
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Re: Crepitation

Postby David Myer » Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:39 pm

I don't know about clicking pancakes, Phillip, but I did enjoy the quote:
"The waves began to be stilled by the large snow-flakes that fell unmelted on their surface; and, as the breeze died away into a murmur, a low crepitation, like the clicking of a death-watch, announced the sea was freezing."
Thalia: A Tale of the Antarctic, Vol. 5 by James Croxall Palmer

I presume the death-watch is not some form of chronometer that might indeed be expected to click or tick. I presume it refers to the death watch beetle that eats the timber in your house and presumably either makes a noise in doing so or facilitates a creaking in the frame of the house as a result of its efforts. But it got me thinking because as an occasional amateur sailor, I used the term to describe the midnight to 4.00am watch as the death watch. Surely that is where the term originated?

Incidentally, back on crepitation, my son's ankles persistently click as he walks. Presumably a crepitation of some sort and no doubt leading to a decrepit old age for him.

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Re: Crepitation

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Apr 13, 2020 8:22 pm

"Do crepes suzette crepitate?" If so, Philip, I presume they do so suzettely.
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Philip Hudson
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Re: Crepitation

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Apr 17, 2020 9:51 pm

Indubiously, Doctor. Thanks for resurrecting this good word.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

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Re: Crepitation

Postby bnjtokyo » Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:10 am

In honor of Bloom's Day (June 16), I've been listening to a dramatization of Ulysses by the RTE Players in Dublin.
https://www.rte.ie/culture/2020/0610/11 ... e-podcast/
This time the following phrase in the Circe episode leapt out at me
(The planets rush together, uttering crepitant cracks.)
An example of the adjectival form of "crepitation" in a non-medical context.

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Re: Crepitation

Postby George Kovac » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:41 am

A grim, but timely use of the word, describing the bleak routines of the doctors and nurses during the flu pandemic of 1918:
“They trooped through hospital rooms and examined patients, made diagnoses, heard the crepitant rales of a diseased lung, felt the alien and inhuman marble texture of a tumor.” John M. Barry “The Great Influenza”
"The messy layers of human experience get pulled together, and sometimes ordered, by words." Colum McCann, But Always Meeting Ourselves, NYT 6/15/09

Philip Hudson
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Re: Crepitation

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:08 pm

Crepitation comments have been thought provoking. It is a good reason for loving the Agora. Thank you one and all.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.


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