• flaccid •
flæ-sid, flæk-sid • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Soft and loose, limp, drooping, without firmness, not tense. 2. Lacking vigor, effectiveness, weak, as 'a flaccid managerial style'.
Notes: Today's word is anomalous because it is the only word with a double C, both of which may be pronounced soft, like S. All others must be pronounced with the first C hard, like K, and the second soft: accept, succeed, accident. Notice that the double C in these words is always followed by an I or E. Before any other vowels, A, O, U, both are pronounced like K: occur, accord, occasion. The adverb is flaccidly and the noun, flaccidness.
In Play: Today's word usually refers to physical softness and laxity: "Rebecca's belly, which had been taut and muscular a decade ago, was now flaccid with accumulated fat." It may be used, though, for these qualities in the figurative sense: "For the past two decades the US Congress has been weak and flaccid."
Word History: This word was borrowed (and never returned) either from French flaccide or directly from Latin flaccidus "flabby, weak, drooping", the adjective for flaccus "flabby, flap-eared". How flaccus happened into Latin is a complete mystery. There is no evidence of a Proto-Indo-European origin in any other Indo-European language. (Today's Good Word arose out of a correction by Mary Jane Stoneburg, a long-standing Good Word editor. She correctly pointed out that the hard C soft C pronunciation is the historically and grammatically correct one.)
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