Printable Version
Pronunciation: plai-kayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, verb

Meaning: Folded, pleated, having ridges, corrugated, arranged in equidistant folds.

Notes: We are familiar with this word prefixed: complicate, explicate, implicate. It is more rarely used alone, but it is there, available for use, even if it is pronounced differently. Plicate may be used as a verb meaning "to fold or pleat", as in 'plicating machines that pleat dresses'. A plicature is a fold or ridge.

In Play: Any set of equidistant ridges is plicate: "Scallops have shells that are not only scalloped at the end, but plicate all over." Plicatures are not rare in our lives: "The tin roof on my house is plicate with parallel standing seams."

Word History: Today's Good Word was made out of plicatus, the past participle of Latin plicare "to fold". Latin received this word from Proto-Indo-European plek-/plok- "to braid", an extended root from pel-/pol- "to fold". (Yes, that's it with another suffix in English fold.) Since Ls became Rs in Sanskrit, we are not surprised to find prasna- "turban" in that language. We also find it in Greek plekein "to braid, plait", Russian plesti "to weave, braid", and Old English fleax "linen cloth" or English flax.

Dr. Goodword,

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