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Pronunciation: de-sê-kayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To dry out completely or cause to dry out. 2. Draw the life or vitality from, make dull and uninteresting.

Notes: The trick in spelling today's word is in remembering to double the C and not the S. Once we master this trick, we can then use today's verb as an adjective meaning the same as desiccated if only we pronounce the final syllable slightly differently, [de-sê-kêt], as a desiccate (dried) fig. It has produced a large family: desiccation is the process. A machine for drying is a desiccator while a drying agent such as is used in camera cases and with certain medicines that must be kept dry is a desiccant.

In Play: Any time liquid is withdrawn from something leaving it dry, that object is desiccated (or dessicate): "If you desiccate a plum, you have a prune—the same applies to jobs." However, withdrawing the life juices from anything, even metaphorically, is also desiccation: "Lyda Cain can desiccate the liveliest of parties with her persistent droning about herself."

Word History: Today's word comes from Latin desiccatus "dried", the past participle of desiccare "to dry up", composed of de- "from, off" + siccare "to dry", a verb derived from siccus "dry". Siccus also underlies siccative "drying, drying agent" and is related to Greek ischnos "dry, withered", Sanskrit sincati "makes dry", and Russian sukhoi "dry". Siccus went on to become Portuguese and Spanish seco, and French sec "dry", as in un champagne sec "a dry champagne". (We hope that suggestions like today's Good Word from Ira Lourie do not dry up.)

Dr. Goodword,

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