Printable Version
Pronunciation: ahb-tê-rayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: To clog, obstruct, plug up, stop up.

Notes: Today's contributor was reminded of this word by obdurate for obvious reasons. The action noun of today's Good Word is obturation and the personal noun is obturator. The adjective meaning "clogged up" is obturated.

In Play: This word is most often used in the field of medicine, particularly in the field of endodontics: "The dentist failed to completely obturate the root canal of his tooth." (The resulting infection was the excuse he used for missing two weeks of work.) However, we have suggested bringing medical terms out of the closet many times before: "Freddy Finkle ate so much bread it obturated his digestive tract."

Word History: Today's word comes from the past participle, obturatus, of the Latin verb, obturare "to clog", made up of ob "against, in the way of" + turos "swollen, coagulated", probably from the same source as Greek turos "cheese", i.e. a swelling, coagulation of milk. Greek turos came from PIE teuh- "to swell", the same origin as English tumor (borrowed) and thigh (Germanic). The word thousand seems to go back to an old Germanic compound, thus-hundi "a swollen hundred" for PIE had no word for "thousand". English thumb came from Old English thuma "swollen finger". Thimble is another word for what Germans call a Fingerhut "finger hat", achieved by adding an instrumental ending -le to thumb. (Tomasz Kowaltowski, a man with a Polish name who lives in Brazil, found no obturation in the Alpha Agora pipeline for even today's rather arcane Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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