• occlude •
ê-klud • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: To close up, stop up, block passage through.
Notes: Today's Good Word has produced the usual family of Latinate derivations. The agent noun is occlusor, a muscle whose job it is to close a pore or other opening. The action noun is, as expected, occlusion. The adjective is either occludent or occlusive, which also serves as a noun referring to linguistic sounds (phonemes) that are produced by completely closing off the passage of air (t, d, k, g).
In Play: This word seldom wanders outside the medical profession, referring mostly to teeth, bowels, and pores: "Since her teeth did not completely occlude, she couldn't efficiently masticate her food, which led to a borborygmic symphony after every meal." However, it occasionally pops up metaphorically: "Lil Abner's indiscretion in her congressional office led to a lesson in what happens when fantasy occludes reality."
Word History: Today's Good Word is a revision of Latin occludere "close up" comprising ob- "up" + claudere "to close". We also see the remnants of claudere in conclude, include, and exclude. English close is a reduction of clausus "closed", the past participle of claudere. Russian klyuch "key", Serbian kljuka "door latch", Lithuanian kliuti "to be caught on"—all come from the same Proto-Indo-European source. The Latin word for "key", clavis, shares the same origin, too. The English borrowings clavicle and clavichord come from clavis . (Let's not allow our gratitude to William Hupy for recommending today's Good Word be occluded by anything.)
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