flor-id • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Flushed with rosy color; ruddy, as a face florid from embarrassment. 2. Profusely decorative, much too flowery or ornate, especially speech or writing. 3. (Obsolete) Abounding in or covered with flowers.
Notes: Today's adjective comes from a source that gave us many members of the English vocabulary (see Word History). It has an adverb, floridly, and two nouns, floridity or floridness. Take your pick. Do not confuse this word with fluoride, the chemical that makes your teeth stronger. They are totally unrelated.
In Play: Today's Good Word is most often associated with language: speech or writing: "Perry Yare has to learn to write in a much less florid style if he is to succeed as a newspaper reporter." But don't forget it also refers to a red or ruddy complexion: "Nan Tucket fell asleep lying in the sun yesterday and today she was florid with sunburn."
Word History: Florid came to us from Latin floridus via French floride. (Where else?) Floridus is the adjective from flos, floris "flower", which also gave us florist, the flora in flora and fauna, flower itself, not to mention the name of the state of Florida, which, like Colorado ("red"), was taken from Spanish. The original stem was bhol-/bhel- "to bloom, thrive" with an [l] that traded places with the vowel before it over the years. In the Germanic languages the initial [bh] changed very little. but it usually became [f] in Latin: compare English burn with Latin fornus "oven". When the vowel and [l] traded places, the same root went on to become our own, unborrowed words, bloom and blossom. You might not expect bleed and bless to derive from a root meaning "to bloom", but they do. Apparently the redness and movement of the blood reminded our ancestors of flowers blooming. Bless originally meant "to consecrate with blood".
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