Printable Version
Pronunciation: fyu-gay-shês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Fleeting, transitory, passing quickly.

Notes: In case the T in the adjective fleeting, as in 'fleeting moment', bothers you because you know that the verb to fleet is not only archaic but meant "to float", now you have a nice Latinate surrogate for that word. Like sagacious and pugnacious, today's adjective comes with a lovely noun, fugacity. We can also add the suffix -ly to form an adverb, fugaciously.

In Play: The single meaning of today's word is "passing quickly": "The evening at Stella Dorro's was filled with fascinating conversations that made it all too fugacious for Gavin." But things other than time may be fugacious: "April showers bring all too fugacious May flowers to my garden."

Word History: Today's Good Word was created from Latin fugax (fugac-s) "fleeing, timid, shy", an adjective based on fugere "to flee", whose root we also see in the Latinate word fugitive and refuge. The Romans may have borrowed their word from a Germanic language where PIE [p] became [f]. If so, it came from Proto-Indo-European pleu-g- "flow, fly", which also produced English flow, flee and fly and German fliehen "flee" without the -g suffix, and German fliegen "fly" with it. In the Balto-Slavic languages it came up in Russian as plyt'/plavat' and in Lithuanian as plaukti "swim, float". Latin developed its own version of the PIE word without the suffix -g in fluere "to flow".

Dr. Goodword,

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