• riparian •
ri-pæ-ri-yên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Along the bank or a river, stream, or lake; related to the bank of a body of fresh water.
Notes: Today's Good Word is as beautiful as the sound of wavelets lapping the river bank it implies. Writers have tried riparial and riparious in the same sense, but no other variation compares with the sheer beauty of riparian. Apparently, no one has attempted a noun from this adjective.
In Play: Any time you are near a river, you can massage the conversation with this warm old lexical glove: "Every Fourth of July the village folk hold a riparian repast by the susurrous Susquehanna and spend the afternoon fishing, wading, and waving at the passing boats." Occasionally the kids catch a riparian frog, lazy from a nap in the shade. Deer, ducks, and other wildlife are often found in riparian scenes, drowning their thirsts and grazing on the lush grasses that grow there.
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from the Latin adjective riparius "pertaining to a bank" from ripa "bank of a river or stream." The original PIE meant "to break or tear", as seen in its Swedish descendant, riva "to scratch, to tear". It also went on to become rift, river and reef in English, rif "reef" in Dutch and, in German, Riff "reef", a scratchy conglomerate on which you could tear your swimsuit if you aren't careful.
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