• foudroyant •
Pronunciation: fu-droy-yênt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Thunderous, noisy and at the same time flashy, dazzling; explosive. 2. (Medicine) Having an unexpectedly sudden and severe onset (of a disease).
Notes: Today's Good Word comes from a family of émigrés from France: clairvoyant "seeing clearly (what others can't)", prevoyant "foreseeing", larmoyant "crying", buoyant "floating" and, of course, the most famous of them all, flamboyant "brilliant, showy", originally "flaming". The suffix -ant is the French present participle ending, equivalent to the suffix -ing in English. The noun for today's word is foudroyance and the adverb is foudroyantly.
In Play: Foudroyant is flamboyant with equivalent sound effects: "Well, I have absolutely no idea what that halftime extravaganza was all about—but you have to admit it certainly was foudroyant." You can always find foudroyance around July 4th in the States: "The foudroyant fireworks display, accompanied by the 'oohs' and 'ahs' from the crowd, left an indelible impression of this year's Fourth of July celebration on everyone's mind."
Word History: The participle ending on today's Good Word is a dead giveaway of its origin: French foudre "lightning" (as in coup de foudre "bolt of lightning" or "love at first sight") descended naturally from the Latin word for lightning, fulgur. Fulgur is akin to Greek phlox "fire" and a fiery purple or red flower, from phlego "burn". It came to English as blaze and blank, which originally meant "dazzle, shine". The same root is lurking in black, either by one of those quirky antonymous twists of meaning, like cold and scald, or because burning often leaves things black. Either way, we owe a loud word of gratitude to Mark Bailey for suggesting today's dynamite word.