• vitreous •
Pronunciation: vi-tree-ês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Made of glass or containing glass; related to glass. 2. Glassy, glass-like, transparent.
Notes: As might be expected, this word may be adverbalized by adding -ly, vitreously, as 'to stare vitreously', and a noun vitreousness. We have another related adjective at out disposal, too: vitrescent "becoming glass or glassy". Vitrescence is the noun that goes with this adjective. Vitreous humor is the gelatinous substance in the eyeball.
In Play: Should you ever tire of hearing or using glassy stare, here is a classier phrase you may use: "Whenever I ask mom for money, a vitreous veil falls over her eyes". We might even try: "Gloria has a vitreous personality: she harbors no secrets and is always bright and shiny."
Word History: Today's Good Word is a makeover of Latin vitreus "of glass, glass-like" derived from vitrum "glass, woad (a blue vegetable dye)", whence French verre, Portuguese vidro, and Italian vetro. Some etymologists associate vitrum with Latin videre "to see", since glass is something we can see through. The French word for "store window", vitrine, encourages us to believe this. If this educated guess is accurate, there is plenty of evidence, historical and borrowed, of this root in English. English inherited it from its Germanic ancestors as wise, wit, and twit (via Old English atwit "to reproach"). Old French borrowed Old English wis "wise" but, since the French language had no W sound, it used the nearest sound to it, GW, and converted it to guise, which English borrowed back with the new meaning French had given it. Of course, English borrowed video from videre and vision from its past participle visus. (We are in the debt of Iain Smallwood for recommending today's bright and shiny Good Word.)