Printable Version
Pronunciation: red-ê-lênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Strongly fragrant, aromatic, having a strong, pleasant odor, as a room redolent of burning wood. 2. Suggestive, evocative, reminiscent, having a 'fishy' smell, as a decision redolent of politics.

Notes: Today's adjective is accompanied by an adverb, redolently, and a lovely noun, redolence. Redolence differs from fragrance in two respects: (1) it refers to a strong fragrance and (2) it can also refer to a strong figurative smell that is not necessarily pleasant. An aroma is a particular or distinctive smell, usually pleasant.

In Play: This word is used most often to refer to physical smell: "The living room was redolent with the needles of the fir Christmas tree." It does emerge with the negative sense of "smell of", though: "Miss Pell's suggestion for a solution was redolent of self-interest."

Word History: Today's Good Word goes back through Old French to Latin redolen(t)s, the present participle of redolere "to smell, to have an odor". It is made up of re(d)- "intense" + olere "to smell of". This verb is related to Latin odor "smell", which English uses pretty much as we snitched it. Odor came from PIE od- "to smell", source also of Greek ozein "to smell" and odme "odor, scent", Armenian hot "odor, smell", Lithuanian uosti "to smell, sniff", Latvian uost "to smell", and Danish os "smoke, fume, reek". English olfactory "pertaining to smell" came from Latin olfactorius, made up of the roots of olere + facere "to make" + the adjective suffix -orius.

Dr. Goodword,

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