• rubescent •
ru-bes-ênt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Turning red, becoming red, reddening.
Notes: We have a few other words with the sense of "becoming": senescent "becoming old", liquescent "becoming liquid", evanescent "becoming invisible", but all are rarely used. These words are too lovely to be left by the wayside, so let's decorate our speech with them. Today's word has a noun, rubescence, and adverb, rubescently.
In Play: Although it is often used as a more impressive synonym for red, this word should be used only in referring to things arriving at a state of redness: "Hetty Wein's face was rubescent from the bottle of Merlot she and Horace were sipping by the fireplace." It is a lovely word that should be worked into descriptions of things of beauty at every opportunity: "Dewey Rose enjoyed those long summer evenings in his garden beneath a rubescent sky."
Word History: Words ending on -ent and -ant in English come from present participles of either French or Latin verbs. Present participles are forms like English running (water) and falling (rain). Today's word comes from rubescen(t)s "reddening", the present participle of the Latin verb rubescere "to redden". The root of this word, ruber or rubeus "red", is closely related to robus "red oak", which led to English robust. French inherited rubeus from Latin and converted it to rouge "red", borrowed by English as, well, you know what. (Our faces would be rubescent if we forgot to thank Lew Jury for suggesting this blushingly lovely word for today.)
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