Printable Version
Pronunciation: sæ-pê-nay-shês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Soapy, similar to or containing soap. 2. Slippery, evasive, difficult to grasp, capture, or comprehend.

Notes: There is little to be added to today's Good Word. Remember that is it spelled -aceous and not -atious, a suffix complex pronounced identically. You may make an adverb, saponaceously, out of this word and the noun is saponaceousness—probably as long as a word should be, explaining why there are no further derivations based on the underlying adjective.

In Play: Love those bubbles!Washing out a kid's mouth with soap for saying bad words, quite popular when I was a kid (it's probably why I have so few cavities), has become at most an empty threat these days. But if you use today's word, the threat at least sounds ominous: "Dillard! If I hear you say that word again I will give you a saponaceous mouth scrubbing!" Boy, will Dillard have something to talk about in kindergarten tomorrow! What makes today's word most useful, however, is that you don't have to bathe to be saponaceous: "Renfrow, that saponaceous cockalorum, has been spreading rumors about his achievements that no one can trace back to him."

Word History: Today's Good Word was created by attaching the English suffix -aceous to Latin sapo, saponis "hair dye, soap". This word came from some ancient Germanic language, based on a word like saipjo which went on to become Modern German Seife "soap" and Modern English soap. Finnish borrowed the same Germanic word as saippio. The Greek word sapon "soap" was apparently borrowed from Latin and was itself rather quickly assimilated by Serbian as sapun "soap". Arabic sabun and Hebrew sabon were also borrowed from Greek. (Today we owe a word of thanks to Nell Bludworth for today's squeaky clean Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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