• inspissate •
in-spi-saytor in-spi-seyt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, transitive, intransitive
Meaning: To thicken or condense (a liquid).
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 either intransitively (with no direct object): "The coffee had sat so long in his cup that it inspissated and grew a thick, 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 inspissatus, the past participle of the Latin verb inspissare "to thicken" from spissus "thick, dense; slow". Spissus went on to become épais "thick" in French and remained in Italian, becoming spesso "often". In Spanish it is espeso. In Germanic languages, the sense of slowness prevailed, as we see in German spät "late".
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