Printable Version
Pronunciation: bæsk Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, passive

Meaning: 1. To sunbathe. 2. To revel in something that gives great pleasure, enjoy much genial warmth.

Notes: The personal noun from this verb is basker, but the town of Baskerville was not so named because of its citizens' basking in anything, but after Thomas Baskerville (1706-1775), a famous English printer of the time. Other derivations depend on the present participle, basking, e.g. 'basking shark'.

In Play: This word is often used in the initial sense: "On all the Caribbean Isles we see lizards basking in the sun everywhere the sun's rays fall." Otherwise, glory is a good place to bask: "Henderson basked happily in the reflected glory of his wife's being the town's most famous woman."

Word History: The word for bathe was bathian "wash, bathe" and bath was bæd in Old English. Let's assume the two were confused and the verbal reflexive suffix, -sk "oneself", ended up on the noun form, so bæd + -sk, would have emerged as bask. The [d] would become [t] before [s], later to become [th] and eventually drop off because of pronunciation difficulty (try saying bathsk). "Bath" is expressed in Modern German by Bad, and also Dutch, Norwegian, and Swedish by bad. We assume the original Proto-Germanic word came about from a combination of PIE bhe-dh-/bho-dh- "bath, to bathe". Bhe-/bho- "to warm" with the suffix -g- arrived in English bake, German backen "to bake" and bähen "to toast", Greek fogein "to roast, toast" and, perhaps, Czech bažiti "crave" in the sense of "hotly desire". (Now let's allow Rob Towart to bask in the recognition of being the contributor of today's purely English [unborrowed] Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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