Printable Version
Pronunciation: plæn-jênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Rich, resonant, reverberating (sounds). 2. (Poetic) Mournful, plaintive. 3. Roaring or crashing (of waves).

Notes: This adjective comes with an adverb, plangently, and a noun, plangency. Plangor "resonant or plaintive sound" is a distant relative that has an adjective plangorous.

In Play: The primary meaning of today's Good word is "resonant", as: "The tone of the guitar is less plangent than that of the oboe." It may also be used in the sense of "plaintive": "Mortimer's film was little more than a plangent melodrama." The word may be used figuratively in the original sense: "Rhea's suggestion of an ejector seat for helicopters didn't strike a plangent chord among the members of the committee."

Word History: Today's word is another Latin participle, this time plangen(t)s "striking, beating", the present participle of plangere "to strike, beat", a nasalized form of PIE plak- "to strike". Latin also had an unnasalized form in plaga "a blow, stroke", which English borrowed for its plague. Greek went without the N, too, in its plessein "to beat, strike". This word went into the making of apoplessein "to disable by a stroke", the noun of which is apoplexia, whence English apoplexy. The nasalized form of this PIE word came to English via its Germanic ancestors as fling. (Let's now offer our gratitude to our old friend Lew Jury for yet another suggestion of a plangent Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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