Printable Version
Pronunciation: sai-ên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A twig with buds cut from a plant for grafting onto another plant, a graft. 2. A descendant or heir in a rich family with a substantial family tree.

Notes: Remember to ignore the silent C in today's word; many can't resist the temptation to pronounce it. Some dictionaries even accept the spellings cion or sion. We don't like either. Like heiress, scion has a feminine form scioness, if you care to use it.

In Play: Today's Good Word is widely used in the world of horticulture, where scions of one plant are regularly grafted to the stock of others: "Grafton tried to graft apple, plum, peach and pear scions to his papaya tree in hopes of producing his own fruit salad, but it didn't work." One of the advantages of wealth is that you get to call your descendants scions, rather than merely "chips off the old block". You simply cannot say, "Buddy Roe is the scion of a family of poor redneck dirt farmers, who never had two nickels to rub together." To be a scion, your family must not only be wealthy, but you must come from old money, not new.

Word History: Today's word is the French word scion from the verb scier "saw, cut", akin to Spanish segar "cut, mow, reap" and Italian segare—both from Latin secare "cut". This verb contains the root which underlies English section, secant, and several other words borrowed from Latin. An extension of secare is scindere "cut in two", the past participle of which is scissum, origin of our word scissors and also related to scythe. In Greek the same root emerged as schizo "I split" found in schizophrenia "split mind". (We simply must thank Margie Sved, a scion of the Alpha Agora family, for suggesting today's noble Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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