• fusillade •
fyu-zê-lahd, fyu-zê-layd • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A quick barrage of shots fired from a number of firearms or other explosive devices.
Notes: Don't forget the double L and single S when spelling this word. It is undergoing the process of Anglicization, so we have the choice of the French pronunciation [fyuzêlahd] or the English [fyuzêlayd]. This noun may be used as a verb, allowing fusillader and fusillading.
In Play: Unfortunately, the literal sense of fusillade is still necessary today: "Many Ukrainian cities are being destroyed by fusillades of Russian missiles." However, this word may be used figuratively for anything fired in quick succession: "The president's news conference ended on a fusillade of questions from the press."
Word History: Today's Good Word obviously is a French noun, from fusiller "to shoot", a verb based on the noun fusil "gun, shotgun". This word originally referred to a steel for sharpening knives, from Old French fuisil, foisil "flint, whetstone", inherited from Vulgar Latin focilis petra "whetstone". Focilis is the adjective for focus "hearth, fireplace". Johannes Kepler chose focus in the sense of "point of convergence" in 1603, since the focus of a magnifying glass produces heat, even fire if you focus it on something combustible. It has been speculated that Latin may have gotten its word from PIE bheh-/bhoh- "to shine". If so, we find this word only in Ancient Greek phainein "to shine" and Sanskrit bhati "shines". All the Romance languages inherited Latin focus: French feu, Portuguese fogo, Italian fuoco, Spanish fuego, and Romanian foc, all meaning "fire". (Now a tip of our e-hats to long-time friend and wordmaster Albert Skiles for suggesting today's fascinating Good Word.)
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