Printable Version
Pronunciation: pi-li-ayt-id Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Wearing a skullcap or in the shape of a skullcap (Latin pileus). 2. Crested, having a crest on the pileum (top of the head of a bird). 3. Having another type of pileus, an umbrella-like cap such as those found on the most common mushrooms.

Notes: Heh-heh-heh-HEH-heh!Probably the most prominent pileated character in the American experience is Woody the (pileated) Woodpecker, created by Walter Lantz. However, current hairdos open the doors wide for metaphorical applications. Although this word has the properties of a past participle, there is no verb pileate. This is the "having" adjective ending added to Latin pileus and pileum. By the way, you may leave the suffix off, for pileate [pi-li-t] has the same meaning.

In Play: The interesting fact about today's word is that it can refer to caps or crests. First, let's see how it refers to mushroom caps: "When Red Hair asked the waitress if they had any pileated fungi, the entire table was mortified." But spirits were raised when the waitress replied: "Shitakes, portabellas, and criminis, but for you let me recommend the amanitas." So, what counts for a crest? "I saw Sonderwell at a nightclub last night with a pileated Southern belle who kept the chandeliers tinkling."

Word History: Today's word is from Latin pilleatus "wearing a felt skullcap" from pilleus "skullcap". The felt used by the Romans must have been made of matted hair, because that is what pilus means, and pilleus comes from that word. Today it is poil in French and pelo in Italian and Spanish. (Phil Davis and Lyn Laboriel suggested today's heady word, for which we should all offer our gratitude.)

Dr. Goodword,

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