Printable Version
Pronunciation: layv Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To wash, bathe. 2. To wash against or over.

Notes: Here is an old word we might meet in 19th or early 20th century literature or modern poetry. It comes with at least one derivation, laver, which means "wash basin" or refers to a variety of edible seaweed. Laverbread is still alive and well in Wales. It is made from boiled seaweed which is minced, rolled in oatmeal, fried, and served at breakfast.

In Play: We might meet today's Good Word used literally in a poetic sentence like this: "Italy, a land laved by sea and mountain air, is beautiful both by day and by night". It is just as likely to occur figuratively, though: "Her kindnesses laved over him like the waves of a warm sea."

Word History: Today's Good Word derives from Old English lafian "wash, pour (water)". This word arose from an early Germanic borrowing of French laver "to wash", as suggested by Dutch laven and German laben "to refresh". French received it from Latin lavare "to wash", which went on also to become Spanish and Portuguese lavar, and Italian lavare "to wash". Lavare came from PIE leue- "to wash", which also went into the making of Greek louein "to wash". English inherited the PIE word directly via its Germanic ancestors as lather. It also borrowed many words with the Latin stem in them, including lavatory and launder. (Let's give Tomasz Kowaltowski a round of applause for suggesting today's rather poetic Good Word in the Agora.)

Dr. Goodword,

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