Printable Version
Pronunciation: ko-ê-les Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: To come together in a mass or a whole, to merge or combine into one whole.

Notes: This rather pretty word comes with an adjective, coalescent, and a noun formed simply by adding an [s] sound to the adjective but spelling it coalescence. We may also use the present participle for both adjective and noun.

In Play: Things coalesce all the time all around us: "After Cookie Baker's dinner, the stomach rumblings of the diners coalesced in a borborygmic chorus that sang, gastromantically, of catastrophes to come." Coalescence is often behind political movements: "Supporters of wind, solar, biomass, and water energy coalesced in the Green Party."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from French, which inherited it from Latin coalescere "unite, grow together". This verb is made up of an assimilated form of com- "together (with)" + alescere "to grow (up), to increase", the inchoative of alere "to suckle, nourish". This is the Latin rendition of PIE root al- "to grow, nourish" which also went into the making of German alt "old", English old. elder, and the first constituent in the compound noun, alderman. It also provided for Latin altus "high", which French turned into haut "high, great", a word it combined with bois "wood" to make hautbois "oboe". English borrowed this word as hautboy originally, then whittled it down to oboe.

Dr. Goodword,

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