Printable Version
Pronunciation: pêr-fyuz Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. Suffuse thoroughly something having a liquid quality throughout an object or idea. 2. (Medicine) To force blood or other liquid through tissue via the vascular system, e.g. the heart after open-heart surgery.

Notes: The difference between an earlier Good Word, suffuse, and today's is that perfuse carries the connotation of completeness that is absent in suffuse. It comes with a noun, perfusion, and an adjective, perfusive.

In Play: This word is more common in the medical world: "Even what appears to be normal blood pressure may be insufficient to adequately perfuse all of the tissues." The broader sense of the word is most often used metaphorically: "Brilliant fuchsias, ochres, mauves, and auric yellows perfused the clouds at sunset."

Word History: Perfuse comes from Latin perfusus "drenched, poured over", the past participle of perfundere "to pour over": per- "through, thorough" + fundere "to pour". Latin seems to have received this word from its ancestor, Proto-Indo-European gheu- "to pour", which gave English, via its Germanic ancestors, gust, gush, and gut. (Latin converted all aspirated PIE consonants, [bh], [dh], and [gh], into [f].) English took geyser from a hot spring in Iceland named Geysir "The gusher" from geysa "to gush", of the the same PIE origin. Another English word from gheu- is futile, taken from the French version of Latin futilis "leaky", said of liquid containers. This word acquired the figurative sense of "unreliable, untrustworthy", which English took on to "hopeless".

Dr. Goodword,

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