Printable Version
Pronunciation: im-bri-fê-rês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Rainy, showery, rain-bearing, auguring rain.

Notes: Today's Good Word is too beautiful to allow it to escape the English language, yet it has become as rare as it is lovely. Few dictionaries list it any more and even the Oxford English Dictionary carries no related words, such as the noun imbriferousness, or the adverb imbriferously.

In Play: If someone asks you about the weather, you might not want to tell them that the forecast says it will be an imbriferous day unless a dictionary is nearby. But please allow the sheer beauty of this little lexical recluse to entice you into an occasional written metaphor: "He found her warm voice and imbriferous eyes formed a safe haven for him away from the searing glare of the world outside."

Word History: Today's lovely Good Word is based on a Latin compound, imbrifer "rain-bearing, rain-bringing" made up of imber "rain, rainstorm" + fer(re) "to carry, bear". Not much is known about the origins of imber, but ferre comes from PIE bher-/bhor- "to bear, carry", the same word that produced Sanskrit bharati "carries" and bharas "burden", and Greek pherein, Gothic bairan—all meaning "to bear" in its several senses. English bear and Scots English bairn "child" (that which has been borne) go back to the same PIE word. We see its remains in Irish breith "birth", Russian brat', birat' "to take", and Latvian bārns "bhild". (Now let us thank Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira from imbriferous Brazil and a long-standing member of the Good Word editorial board for finding today's fetching lexical dandy and sharing it with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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