Printable Version
Pronunciation: prê-tu-bêr-ênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Swelling or bulging out, protruding.

Notes: Today's Good Word, like fissiparous, is an adjective from a verb that is used less often than the adjective. Protuberant comes from the verb protuberate "to bulge out", which we rarely encounter. The noun from protuberant is protuberance "a bulge, swelling". This noun means the same thing as the noun from the verb, protuberation, also rarely used.

In Play: Protuberant things protrude from the surface around them: "After dinner the other guests were serenaded by a concert of borborygms from Hardy Mehl's protuberant stomach." If something normally protrudes, today's adjective implies a protuberance greater than normal: "His colleagues joked that Breton Wood's protuberant eyebrows provided shade for them when they ate lunch outside on sunny days".

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from protuberan(t)s, the present participle of Latin protuberare "to bulge, stick out", based on pro "forth, forward" + tuber "a swelling". I see you have already figured out for yourself that English also borrowed tuber to refer to a swelling on a root vegetable. But did you know that tubercles are small tubers or nodules that are symptoms of tuberculosis when they appear in the lungs? In English, the tub- root came to refer to the swollen finger, the thumb. In Greek it turned up as tumbos "tomb", which we also borrowed. (Kathleen McCune now of Sweden sticks out among our contributors not only because of her name but because of the many excellent Good Words like today's that she sends us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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