Printable Version
Pronunciation: blæn-dil-ê-kwent Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Smooth-talking, honey-tongued, flattering.

Notes: Today's word is another tottering on the brink of extinction; most dictionaries have already given it up. The Oxford English Dictionary has retained the noun, blandiloquence, and an adjectival cousin, blandiloquous. We need to retain this word, however, if for no other reason than it sounds better than smooth-talking or blandiloquous.

In Play: When today's word was last used, it, too, had acquired the pejorative sense of "smooth-talking": "Some blandiloquent used-car salesman convinced Millicent to buy a 1986 Chevy with 150,000 miles on it." However, since we must revive it, we might just as well revive it as a neutral term, "Bridget is so attracted to blandiloquent men that she only goes out with subscribers to alphaDictionary's Good Word series."

Word History: Today's is another case of lexical larceny by Mother English, this time of Latin blandiloquentia "smooth-talking". This word is a compound composed of blandus "soft" + loquor "to talk," whose verbal noun is loquentia "talking, talk". Oddly enough, the Proto-Indo-European root underlying bland- is mol- "soft" (compare Italian molle and Portuguese mole "soft") in the usual three ablaut flavors, including mel- and ml-. The word-initial combination [ml] sometimes became [bl] in Latin, hence Latin blandus with a suffix -ndus. In Greek we find malakos "soft," in Serbian, mlad "young," and in Russian, molodoy "young" with the same root. English inherited this root through the Germanic languages as melt and mild.

Dr. Goodword,

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