• etiolate •
ee-tee-ê-layt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, transitive
Meaning: 1. To bleach or make pale, especially by depriving of light. 2. To make feeble or sickly.
Notes: Today's is a good but tricky word: the stress (accent) is on the first of four syllables, rather unusual for English. Keep an eye (or tongue) on that problem area and this very good word will quickly snuggle into your vocabulary. The noun is etiolation.
In Play: Probably the most common etiolation is suffered by vegetables like asparagus. Etiolated asparagus works well on plates where green clashes with the colors of the other servings. "Years researching her novels in musty libraries had etiolated Rhoda Book to the point it was difficult to look at her in a bright light." Rhoda's sister, Rita, was physically etiolated by lying too much abed with good literature.
Word History: This word was taken from French étioler, from étieuler "to grow into haulm," from éteule "stalk," from Old French esteule. Esteule came to French from Latin stipula "stalk, stem, stubble", which shares a source with English stem. The semantic journey seems to have departed from the idea that stalks (Latin stipula) are wastage used historically for bedding and thatching. My guess would be that plants that didn't receive enough sun were considered wastage until chefs discovered that certain etiolated vegetables could add a dash of the exotic to the presentation of their dishes. (Today's word comes to us, ironically enough, from the Land of the Rising Sun, Kamakura, Japan, a suggestion of Flaminius, an active word-trader in the Alpha Agora.)
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