Printable Version
Pronunciation: skl-raht-ik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. (Medicine) Related to or having sclerosis. 2. Having become rigid and unresponsive, unadaptable, resistant to change, fixed, unmovable.

Notes: Sclerotic is the offspring of sclerosis, the name of a pathological condition resulting in a hardening and thickening of soft tissues, most notably in muscular sclerosis or simply MS. MS is a potentially disabling disease of the central nervous system that can be mild or disabling even up to the point of fatality.

In Play: The medical usage is fairly straightforward, referring to any hardening of tissue in the body: "As we age, many fall victim of vascular sclerosis (arteriosclerosis), hardening of the arteries." We are free to use it figuratively: "Although the US economy seems to be booming, middle class income remains sclerotic."

Word History: Today's Good Word is an anglicization of medieval Latin scleroticus, borrowed from late Greek sklerotikos "pertaining to sclerosis or hardening", derived from skleros "hard". Greek came by this word from PIE (s)kel- "to wither, dry out" with a Fickle S. Greek also had a verb with this root, skellein "to harden". In German we find schal "flat, stale" and in English, shallow from the same source. The PIE word evolved without the Fickle S in German as hell "clear, fair-skinned" and in Latvian we find words more closely related to the original PIE sense, kalte "drier, drying room" and kaltet "to dry". (Our friend of many years and suggestions Lew Jury recommended that we do today's rather fascinating Good Word ages ago.)

Dr. Goodword,

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