Printable Version
Pronunciation: ru-pes-treen Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Growing on rocks (plants), living among rocks (animals), appearing on rocks (everything else).

Notes: The meaning above so rarely leads to an adjective that several similar adjectives have arisen. Alongside today's Good Word, we find rupestrial, rupestrian, rupicoline, and rupicolous. We are free, of course, to extend our adjective to an adverb by adding the adverb suffix -ly: rupestrinely. I might even push this Good Word to a noun, rupestrinity, if I were backed into corner.

In Play: Almost any relationship to stones may be captured in today's adjective: "The highlight of Dewey Rose's garden is a collection of rupestrine lichens and mosses growing on a cluster of boulders in its center." We might also mention several rupestrine rodents curiously resembling chipmunks that live among those stones. This word may also be used in reference to human occupations involving stone: "The rupestrine drawings in the cave at Chauvet, France, are the oldest surviving paintings we know of." Of course, a rupestrine promise ("written in stone") is the most reliable promise we can make.

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin rupes "stone, rock" with various adjectival suffixes recently attached to it. Rupes seems related to rumpere "to break". The M in this word is a predictable instance of the Fickle N about which I have spoken before. The past participle of this verb is ruptus "broken", the source of English rupture and other words containing the root rupt-, such as erupt and corrupt. The root underlying these Latin words seems to come to English as ruff and ruffle. A ruffle was originally a fight, the sort of thing you might use a stone in and emerge from with ruffled feathers. (Lest we ruffle the feathers of Luke Javan and the mysterious Grogie of the Agora, let us convey our gratitude for his suggesting today's Good Word with rupestrinely carved words of thanks.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!