Printable Version
Pronunciation: vi-rê-des-ênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Beginning to turn green, greenish.

Notes: This word comes with a shorter fraternal twin, virescent, which we may use when we need the sense of today's Good Word, but are in a hurry. We know they come from the same family, because they share the same lexical root, vir-. Of course, we always form the noun from adjectives on -ent or -ant by simply adding an [s] sound, and spelling the nouns viridescence and virescence.

In Play: You know how beautiful trees are early in the spring when they are just beginning to unfurl their leaves, which have not yet turned fully green? This is the word to describe them: "The crocuses, hyacinths and daffodils were resplendent in full colors beneath the majestic arches of viridescent elms." Although some have used this word in the sense of "greenish", the actual meaning is "becoming green". So try it like this, too: "Maude, how do you feel? You look a bit viridescent, as though you were about to throw up."

Word History: Today's Good Word came from Late Latin viridescen(t)s "greening", the present participle of viridescere "to become green". A shorter form of this word is virescere "to become green", whose participle gave us the shorter adjective virescent with the same meaning as today's Good Word. This is the 'verbed' form of Latin viridis "green", which French turned into verd-, then vert "green". We find the root verd- in verdant "green with plant life" and verdure "greenery", both of which we borrowed from French. (We thank Mary Jane Stoneburg, one of the editors of the Good Word series, for dreaming of spring's viridescence and suggesting we add today's bit of springiness to our series.)

Dr. Goodword,

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