Printable Version
Pronunciation: in-flay-shên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: 1. Blowing up (as to blow up a balloon), distending or swelling out with air or gas. 2. Excessive rise in consumer prices. 3. Bloviation, fatuous exaggeration of one's accomplishments, pretention.

Notes: Today's is a word that was high in the news early in 2023. Inflation stinks to high heaven like its distant cousin flatulence. (Must run in the family.) It is the noun from the verb inflate and comes to us accompanied by the adjective inflationary. Inflationism is the tendency for prices to inflate and an inflationist is someone who advocates inflation for whatever reason.

In Play: The most common sense of this word is the second above: "The Fed has one tool in its toolbox to fight inflation: strangle the money supply by raising the rate by which banks borrow money." Although we rarely meet the noun inflation in its third sense above, the verb inflate underlying it is much more common: "Representative George Santos made his way into Congress in 2023 by grossly inflating his resume."

Word History: Today's Good Word was an English remake of Latin inflation(n) "puffing up, flatulence", the action noun of inflare "blow into, puff up; inspire". Inflare comprises in "in(to)" + flare "to blow". We have examined in many times before; it goes back to PIE en "in(side)". Flare is what Latin made of PIE bhlew-/bhlow- "to blow", source also of English blow, bluster, blister, Lithuanian bliauti "to bray, roar", Latvian bļaut "whoop, yell", Russian blevat' "puke, vomit", and Serbian blyuvati "belch, puke". Greek and Latin converted BH to F, reflected in English burn and Latin fornax "furnace", whence English furnace. So, bhleu- turned up in Greek as fluein "to boil, bubble up".

Dr. Goodword,

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