Printable Version
Pronunciation: sai-æ-lê-kwênt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: (You aren't going to believe this) Spitting while talking! Sputtering saliva while speaking!

Notes: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, sialoquent was first listed in Thomas Blount's dictionary, Glossographia, published in 1656. I don't think it was given a fair chance since, and I have chosen to include it in the Good Word series in an attempt to give it one. The adverb, of course, is sialoquently, and the noun, sialoquence. Pronounce it carefully; you wouldn't want to spray anyone pronouncing this word.

In Play: The foremost sialoquent character in American mythology is the cartoon character Daffy Duck: "Daffy Duck is so sialoquent, there isn't a dry eye in the house when he speaks about anything." Few humans actually speak sialoquently except under extraordinary circumstances: "Frank Palaver, sialoquently sputtering as he does after a few drinks, pelted his colleagues with harsh words and moisture, neither of which they appreciated."

Word History: This funny word is a compound some wag created from Greek sialon "spittle" + Latin loquen(t)s "speaking", the present participle of loqui "to speak". Some etymologists have tried to relate sialon to German Speichel and English spit, but without a convincing explanation of what happened to the P in Greek. As for loqui, there was a Proto-Indo-European word tolkw- "speak," which ended up in English talk and Russian tolkovat' "to interpret". It is possible that the O and L underwent metathesis (switched places) in early Latin, resulting in a root tlokw-. Were this to have occurred, the initial T would have disappeared since Latin did not permit TL at the beginning of a word. The final result would be a word spelled loqui, pronounced [lokwi].

Dr. Goodword,

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