Printable Version
Pronunciation: in-spi-sayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: To thicken, congeal, or condense.

Notes: Today's verb is used most widely in its participle form, inspissated, as 'inspissated milk' or 'inspissated egg whites'. But it may also be used as an adjective: an atmosphere of inspissate gloom. The action noun is inspissation and the actor noun, inspissator. An inspissant is a thickening agent like corn starch or the bacteria in yoghurt.

In Play: This Good Word may be used intransitively (with no direct object): "The coffee had sat so long in his cup that it inspissated and grew a thick with green mold on top." It may also be used transitively (with a direct object): "The two men's dislike for each other inspissated the atmosphere, slowing the conversation to pedantic, carefully chosen words."

Word History: Today's word comes from Latin inspissatus, the past participle of inspissare "to thicken", a verb created from the adjective spissus "thick, crowded, compact". Spissus is the result of Proto-Indo-European speisti?, an extension of spei- "to thicken, fatten, prospoer", a cognate of Ancient Greek spidnos "dense, solid", Lithuanian spi&etilde;sti "swarm, concentrate", and Latvian spiedu? "I compress, I press". In ancient times, poor people were associated with skinniness and rich, with obesity. We find evidence of this in Russian uspekh "success".

Dr. Goodword,

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