Printable Version
Pronunciation: vi-sid Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Viscous, thick and sticky, clammy, glutinous, gluey. 2. Covered with a viscid layer.

Notes: Here is a more specific word for sticky referring to a consistency. Some flowers have a viscidium, a viscid appendage that makes visiting insects sticky so they can carry more pollen away from the plant. The quality noun is viscidity and the adverb, viscidly.

In Play: We meet with several viscid substances in our lives: "Donald sank up to his ankles in the warm, viscid mud." Since Latin, this word has generally referred to less appealing substances: "Maureen blew a viscid wad of phlegm from her nose."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from French viscide or directly from Latin viscidus "sticky, clammy", based on viscum "mistletoe, birdlime (made from mistletoe)", from PIE weis- "bad liquid or flow". Sanskrit visah "poisonous", Greek ios "poison" and ixos "mistletoe", and Latin virus "poisonous sap, slimy liquid" come from the same source. The last word underwent "rhotacization", the shift of [s] to [r], common among Latin words. We see it again in Welsh gwyar "blood". (Thanks today is owed Mary Jane Stoneburg, long-time editor of the Good Word series, for today's fascinating Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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