• dross •
drahs • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)
Meaning: 1. Refuse, rubbish, dregs, crap, schlock, worthless matter. 2. Impurities, foreign matter, such as scum or the chaff of grains.
Notes: Today's is a word lying about the periphery of the English vocabulary, not used nearly enough. Dross comes with two adjectives, drossy and its antonym drossless. This noun has been used as a verb in the past, meaning both to convert a substance to dross and rid it of dross. A drossel is a slut.
In Play: The original meaning of today's word is the scum formed on the surface of molten metal: "Siddie Hall has a real knack for turning gold to dross." However, today it is more often used to refer to anything worthless: "The story was pure dross, but the acting in the film was OK."
Word History: In Old English today's Good Word was dros "the scum from metals in smelting". English inherited this word from Proto-Germanic drohs-, which came to Dutch as droesem and German as Drusen "dregs, husks". The meaning "refuse, rubbish" arose in English in the mid-15th century. Proto-Germanic came by its word from Proto-Indo-European dher- "to muddy, becloud". This root can be seen in Latin fraces "grounds" and Russian drozhzhi "yeast". That could be it in Lithuanian darkus "nasty, dirty", too. (Today we owe our gratitude to Gordon Wray, who recommended today's excellent if endangered Good Word.)
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