• voracious •
Pronunciation: vor-ray-shês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Excessively hungry, ravenous, devouring with an immense appetite, insatiable. 2. Excessively greedy, gluttonous, insatiable.
Notes: This Good Word may refer to people (Homer arrived voracious) or appetites (Homer arrived with a voracious appetite). Remember that the [sh] sound is spelled CI (ci) in this word. In the noun, voracity, the same two letters represent the sound [si].
In Play: Voracious is basically all about consuming food: "After dieting for a week, Hardy Belcher arrived at the picnic so voracious that he had regained all his weight by nightfall." However, just as we have appetites for things other than food, so may we be voracious for them: "Neil Downe must have a voracious appetite for punishment, spending so much time with the boss, as he does." One of our editors, Mary Jane Stoneburg, knows someone who is a voracious but not omnivorous reader.
Word History: Today's Good Word was derived from its noun, voracity, which English borrowed from French voracité. French inherited this word from Latin voracitas, the noun from vorax, voracis "greedy". These words all go back to the verb vorare "devour", which also gave us the word devour, prefixed with de-. It also turns up in various other Latin borrowings such as omnivorous "consuming everything", mentioned above, as well as carnivore "meat-eater" and herbivore "plant-eater, vegetarian" from caro, carnis "meat" and herba "plant" + the root of vorare. The same original root (gwer-/gwor-) turns up as Russian zhret' "to chew" and gorlo "throat" (Serbian grlo) but we find little evidence of this root in Germanic languages like English other than in borrowings.