Printable Version
Pronunciation: ek-sæng-gwin Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Without or lacking blood, having lost considerable blood. 2. Anemic, appearing to lack blood.

Notes: Today's Good Word belongs to a large extended family, including three fraternal twins, exsanguineous, exsanguinous, and exsanguious, with the same meaning. To drain blood out of something is to exsanguinate it while the state of being without blood is exsanguinity. Without the prefix ex- we get sanguine, which means, in addition to "bloody" and "blood-red", "hopeful, confident", a meaning going back to the days when blood was considered the humor that controlled good spirits.

In Play: Today's word provides the reason for faces turning white: "Buster's face became exsanguine at the sound of his pants ripping." However, exsanguine is more often applied to a sense of exhaustion in the sense of the phrase 'I feel drained', as in: "After six straight hours of shopping, Louise was so exsanguine that, when she returned home, she plopped immediately in her easy chair and was asleep in less than a minute."

Word History: Today's Good Word was among the hordes of words shanghaied from Latin via Old French. Latin exsanguis "bloodless" was based on ex "out (of)" + sanguis "blood". No one knows where sanguis came from; of all the Indo-European languages, it appears only in Latin. It devolved into French sang "blood", which English uses in phrases it also borrowed from French, sang-froid "coolness, detachment", literally "cold blood", and the deep red color, sang-de-boeuf. literally "blood of beef". The root appears in other words, too, such as consanguine "related by blood" and sangria. (Yuck! It will never taste the same again.) (We thank the very sanguine Sara Goldman, a woman with words in her blood, for her suggestion of today's very Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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