Printable Version
Pronunciation: pro-liks Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Extremely wordy or verbose, long-winded, bombastic (in speaking). 2. Lengthy, too long, overly protracted (archaic).

Notes: Today's is one of the oddest words in English: an adjective that doesn't look or sound like an English adjective, native or borrowed. Adjectives just do not end on [x] in English but this one does. This fact makes the adverb, prolixly, sound even odder, though the noun, prolixity, has a nice lilt to it, probably because the accent moves: [pr-lik-s-ti].

In Play: Today's Good Word is rarely used today in the simple sense of "too long". It is most often applied to wordy writing by harried English teachers: "This paper is so prolix, I often thought myself reading a novel with no plot." However, prolixity also finds its way into speech: "Merewether's speech was so prolix that he actually choked on a couple of sentences."

Word History: English took today's Good Word, like so many others, from Old French, this time prolixe. French inherited it naturally from Latin prolixus "poured forth, extended", an adjective based on pro "great" + lixus "flowed", the past participle of liquere "to flow, run". The same root, liquere, underlies liquor "fluidity", which English captured for a different use.

Dr. Goodword,

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