Printable Version
Pronunciation: fahs-fêr-res-int Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Emitting light, glowing, fluorescent, luminescent, as a result of exposure to light or a chemical reaction.

Notes: Remember this word is based on a Greek roots, so both [f] sounds are represented by PH. It is an adjective based on the verb phosphoresce. The noun for phosphorescent is phosphorescence. It is actually the adjective plus the common multifunctional suffix -s [fahs-fêr-res-int-s].

In Play: There are several ways luminescence can be produced. Fireflies and other organisms are capable of bioluminescence: "At that depth the water often was brightened by schools of phosphorescent fish that passed the submersible." This word may also be used to describe anything like a pale phosphorescent light: "Outside the nightingales were singing blithely and, when the songsters took flight, Hazel could see the phosphorescent blue of moonlight on their wings."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a combination of phosphor + -escent, a suffix usually meaning "becoming". Phosphor was copied from the Latin copy of Greek phosphoros "light-bearer" which, when capitalized, was the Greek word for Morning Star. Phosphoros is a combination of phos "light" + phoros "bearer". Phos, photis is the Greek remake of PIE bha- "to shine", source also of Sanskrit bhati "illuminates", Armenian banam "(I) open", ancient Greek phane "torch", and Irish bán "white". Phoros is the personal noun for pherein "to carry". It descended from PIE bher-/bhor- "to bear, carry", source also of Sanskrit bharati "carries, brings", Latin ferre "to bear, carry", Armenian berem "I carry", Russian beru "I will take", Albanian bartin "to carry", and the English verb bear. (Let us now enlighten Gary Cook with our gratitude for his recommending today's long but fascinating Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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