Printable Version
Pronunciation: flu-vi-êl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Pertaining to rivers or other flowing streams. 2. Produced by a river or stream.

Notes: This word comes from a dysfunctional lexical family. Wiktionary is the only online dictionary confirming that the potential noun for this adjective is fluviality. Other dictionaries offer fluviation, but none list a verb, fluviate, which should underlie such a word.

In Play: Fluvial may refer to an action: "The huge Mississippi Delta is evidence of the powerful effects of fluvial activity." It may also refer to a result of that action: "The greatest example of fluvial erosion in America is the Grand Canyon."

Word History: English borrowed today's Good Word from French fluvial, a trimmed-down version of Latin fluvialis "of a river or stream", the adjective for fluvius "a river, stream", derived from fluere "to flow". Latin created this word out of PIE bhleu-/bhlou- "to swell, bubble, overflow". This PIE word is also the source of Greek phluein "to boil, bubble up" and Latin fluidus "fluid, flowing" from fluere "to flow". French simplified this word to fluide, leaving English just the removal of the final E. The present participle of fluere was fluen(t)s, which French simplified to fluent. English also received the remnants of bhleu-/bhlou- via its Germanic ancestors as blow. (Today's is another flowingly Good Word from the prolific Agoran, Gary Cook; may this be a note of our gratitude to him or her.)

Dr. Goodword,

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