• foison •
Pronunciation: foy-zên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Strength, power, vitality (Scots English).
2. An abundance, a profusion, a plentiful supply. 3. A source of strength or vitality, nourishment.
Notes: Today's is another good if ancient word teetering on the brink of extinction, despite its large family. It may also be used as a verb, meaning "to supply plentifully", as a table foisoned with every delicacy known to chefs. A foisonous person is one full of energy but a foisonous pantry is one that is well-supplied. Foisonous food would be just the opposite of poisonous food: nutritious, providing a source of energy and strength.
In Play: Incidents have been reported in the past when enemies were eliminated with a foison of poisonous food, but generally today's Good Word is all positive: "We've a foison of foisonous suggestions but a dearth of concrete offers to help." Apparently, some of us would subscribe to this description of our lives: "We have a foison of consumer goods in a cultural desert." (The Good Doctor is not yet so pessimistic.)
Word History: Today's Good Word was lifted from Old French foison, the natural descendant of Latin fusio(n-) "a pouring", a noun from the past participle, fusus, of fundere "to pour". The infinitive stem is the origin of our word foundry, where metal castings are poured. With a different suffix, the same root came to Latin as futilis "leaky", which we and the French hammered into futile. The original Proto-Indo-European root was *gheu-s- "to pour, to flow", which turns up in English as gush. In Old Norse it took on the guise of geysa "to gush", which we adopted as geyser, pronounced geysa in some dialects today.
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