• bibacious •
bi- or bai-bay-shês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Fond of or given to fairly heavy drinking.
Notes: Although today's word is not related to vivacious, its relatives bear a striking resemblance to the vivacious family of words. The adverb from this adjective is bibaciously and the noun, bibacity. There is also a stranded noun, bibation "drinking", that implies the existence of a verb, bibate, which in fact does not exist. The verb underlying bibation is bib "to drink", a word now replaced by a cousin, imbibe.
In Play: Sometimes we feel the urge to speak frankly but not openly; today's word is a wonderful tool for doing so: "Heddy Wein is an absolutely bibacious woman when she dresses up and goes out." Heddy's friends will take it as a compliment—unless they subscribe to our Good Words. Bibacious works well describing someone between a light drinker and an alcoholic: "Bud Light is a bit bibacious, but I wouldn't call him an alcoholic."
Word History: Today's Good Word is based on the Latin adjective bibax, bibacis "tending to overdrink" from the verb bibere "to drink". Middle English apparently borrowed this verb whole, adapting it to English suffixation as bibben "to drink heartily". The only relic of that word is bib, which heavy drinkers and eaters should wear at the table. The B in this root was originally a very similar sound, P, which explains the P in potion and potable "drinkable", from Latin potare "to drink". The noun from this verb, potio(n), was borrowed by English in various stages of its later development as both potion and poison. In Greek the same root went into the making of potamus "river", which appears in the name of the "river horse", hippopotamus.
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