Printable Version
Pronunciation: foy-zên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Strength, power, vitality (Scots English). 2. An abundance, a profusion, a plentiful supply. 3. A source of strength or vitality, nourishment.

Notes: Today's is another good if ancient word teetering on the brink of extinction, despite its large family. It may also be used as a verb, meaning "to supply plentifully", as a table foisoned with every delicacy known to chefs. A foisonous person is one full of energy but a foisonous pantry is one that is well-supplied. Foisonous food would be just the opposite of poisonous food: nutritious, providing a source of energy and strength.

In Play: Incidents have been reported in the past when enemies were eliminated with a foison of poisonous food, but generally today's Good Word is all positive: "We've a foison of foisonous suggestions but a dearth of concrete offers to help." Apparently, some of us would subscribe to this description of our lives: "We have a foison of consumer goods in a cultural desert." (The Good Doctor is not yet so pessimistic.)

Word History: Today's Good Word was lifted from Old French foison, the natural descendant of Latin fusio(n-) "a pouring", a noun from the past participle, fusus, of fundere "to pour". The infinitive stem is the origin of our word foundry, where metal castings are poured. With a different suffix, the same root came to Latin as futilis "leaky", which we and the French hammered into futile. The original Proto-Indo-European root was *gheu-s- "to pour, to flow", which turns up in English as gush. In Old Norse it took on the guise of geysa "to gush", which we adopted as geyser, pronounced geysa in some dialects today.

Dr. Goodword,

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