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 we use pretty much as is. Apparently, a suffix -d was added to ol-, which caused the -l to disappear. Of course olfactory "pertaining to the sense of smell" is composed of the same root + fact(us), the Latin past participle of facere "to make, to do" + the adjective suffix -ory.

Dr. Goodword,

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