Printable Version
Pronunciation: prê-zil-i-ênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Very prominent, most outstanding, preeminent.

Notes: This word has a bit of historical dust on it and was a rarity even in its time. But the last citation in the grand old Oxford English Dictionary came from a Scottish publication in 1999. Prosilient comes with a noun, prosiliency, and adverb, prosiliently.

In Play: The latest quote in the OED is from the Scotsman, vol. 8, October 21, 1999: "Keyboards and pipes are ten a penny nowadays, but in the Seventies they were an innovation that put the Battlefield Band in a prosilient category of their own." The word doesn't mean "prominent" as so many dictionaries declare; it means "extremely prominent": "Axel Wiener is a prosilient champion in the hotdog eating circuit."

Word History: Prosilient is a simplified version of Latin prosilient(t)s "leaping forward", the present participle of prosilire "to leap forward". The constituents of this word are pro "forward, forth" + the combining form of salire "to jump, leap". The unprefixed form of the present participle of this word, salien(t)s, was also borrowed by English as salient. Salacious is another English word built upon this Latin root, salax (salac-) "lustful". Both assail and assault are borrowings built on the same root, originally ad "(up)to, on" + salire. Sommersault was copied from Old French sombresault, which is in Modern French soubresaut "spasm, sudden jump", inherited from Latin supra "over" + saltus "a jump, leap". (Today's Good Word was a gift from the prosilient even if ever mysterious Grogie of the Agora.)

Dr. Goodword,

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