Printable Version
Pronunciation: bi-slah-bêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To drool saliva on someone, to drivel or slaver (slabber) on someone. 2. To inundate with fulsome flattery, to kiss effusively, to fawn.

Notes: The prefix be- rather irregularly converts an intransitive verb, one that prohibits a direct object, into a transitive verb, one that has no such prohibition. So, slobber (you can't slobber anyone) becomes beslobber (you can beslobber someone). Other examples of this prefix include becloud, bedazzle, and besmear.

In Play: Animals are the first beslobbering creatures that come to mind: "Mom! The dog beslobbered my homework again!" If it is a bulldog, it probably beslobbered everything else in the house, as well. We have few situations proper for this word: "No woman liked to greet Randy Fellows, knowing he beslobbers the neck of every woman he hugs."

Word History: This is a word that has been around a long time and had several spellings and pronunciations, including slaver and slabber (when A, not O, was pronounced [ah]). It might have originated with Frisian slobberje "to slurp" or Dutch slobberen "to slap up, slurp". One of the pronunciations has three of the four consonants of saliva (borrowed directly from Latin). Given the pronunciation and spelling variations today's Good Word has undergone, it is only a slight stretch to conjecture that today's word is related to it. Semantically, it is hard not to think it akin to lap, as animals with no power of suction do, perhaps influenced by slap, the sound of lapping. Then there is slop. Your guess is as good as mine.

Dr. Goodword,

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