Printable Version
Pronunciation: lu-brish-ês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Smooth, slippery, oily. 2. Oily, shifty, devious, sneaky. nefarious. 3. Lustful, salacious, sexual.

Notes: Most dictionaries still list the mate of today's Good Word, lubricous, among their store (see Word History). Lubricious is the prettier of the two variants, with a sound that suggests its meaning, so we prefer it. Both variants come with adverbs created by simply adding -ly to the end. The noun for lubricious is lubricity. Both forms are related to the verb lubricate, hence the implication of oiliness.

In Play: This is the adjective to use in describing eels, snails, jelly-fish, throats, eyeballs, and things of similar texture: "Mary Jo then placed upon the table a bowl of boiled okra so lubricious the diners had trouble holding it on their forks." However, this word works just as well describing things that are figuratively slippery: "Phil Anders asked Marian Kine to his apartment with such a lubricious smile on his face that she called a cab to take her home."

Word History: Today's word has a variation, lubricous [lu-brê-kês], which could have resulted from the omission of the I (i) before the suffix -ous or simply an adjustment of the word back toward its Latin ancestor, lubricus "slippery". The Latin word comes from a Proto-Indo-European word, sleubh- "to slip", with an initial Fickle S. As usual, the Fickle S was lost in Latin but remained in the Germanic languages, so sleubh- went on to become sleeve in English, something we slip our arms into. English slip and slop share the same origin. (Now we thank Mr. William Hupy, a man lacking in lubricity of either sort, for suggesting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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