Printable Version
Pronunciation: i-sur-i-yênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Craving food, starving, voracious, famished. 2. Devouring food in great quantities. 3. Ardently desirous of anything.

Notes: This Good Word is the adjective for an archaic noun esure "the process of eating". Two nouns have been derived from it, esurience and esuriency; use either without prejudice. The adverb, of course, is esuriently.

In Play: The basic meaning of today's Good Word is "famished": "Annabelle looked esuriently at the chocolate mocha ya ya, a trickle of saliva creeping out of the corner of her mouth." Cleveland was more esurient for the yaya than Annabelle and snatched it from her purview. This word's meaning can be stretched to anything we may hunger for: "After one of the most demanding weeks at the office, John found himself esurient for a weekend at the beach."

Word History: This word comes from Latin esurien(t)s "wanting to eat", the present participle of esurire "to want to eat", the desiderative form of edere "to eat". The root of the Latin word came, unchanged, from PIE ed- "eat, bite". We find this root in words for "eat" throughout the Indo-European languages: English eat, German essen, Russian est'. We find it in many English words borrowed from Latin: edible, esculent, and obese. The last word comes from Latin obesus "overeaten", the past participle of obedere "to devour, eat away", containing ob-, an intensive prefix + edere "to eat". We get alfalfa from Spanish. Spanish obtained the word from Arabic al-fasfasa, comprising al "the" + fasfasa "alfalfa". Arabic borrowed this word from Middle Persian aspast, from Old Iranian aspasti- "clover, alfalfa", comprising aspa- "horse" + (e)sti- "food, fodder", literally "horse food". (alphaDictionary is esurient for more quality Good Words like today's from Jeremy Busch via the Alpha Agora.)

Dr. Goodword,

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