ah-sê-dên-si • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A fit of yawning. 2. The drowsiness, slowness, laziness or indolence caused by fatigue or need for sleep.
Notes: This word is the noun from the adjective oscitant "yawning, drowsy, sluggish", itself based on the seldom used verb oscitate "to yawn or gape open". Don't forget to change the Y to I before the plural ending: oscitancies.
In Play: Oscitancy is usually found in the company of a previous Good Word, pandiculation, stretching from sleepiness: "Mortimer talked a half hour about the advantages of eating raw seeds and twigs to a sea of oscitancy and pandiculation." However, this word is probably more often used in reference to sluggishness or dullness resembling that of sleepiness: "Jacob seems a bit more oscitant to finish cleaning the garage than he was to start the job."
Word History: Today's word comes from the present participle, oscitan(t)s, of the Latin verb oscitare "to yawn, open, gape", made up of os "mouth" + citare "to move". Latin os, oris "mouth" came from PIE os- "mouth", which also went into the making of Sanskrit asan "mouth", Old Norse oss "mouth of a river", and Irish ós "mouth". The root of citare, cit-, came from PIE keiê- "to move", which is also responsible for Sanskrit cyavate "bestirs oneself" and Greek kinein "to move", the origin of the English borrowings cinema and kinetic. We also find its remains in the hest of English behest, since PIE [k] became [h] in Germanic languages like English. (We never oscitate at the words suggested by Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, an editor of the Good Words, because his suggestions are always intriguing.)
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