Printable Version
Pronunciation: spyum Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Froth or foam from a liquid, especially sea foam.

Notes: S-S-S-SpumeToday's Good Word allows us to distinguish sea foam from other types, since "sea foam" is its default meaning. This word may be used as a verb, as the volcano spumed forth a froth of fire. It comes with two adjectives, the Latinate spumous and the Germanic spumy, both meaning "showing or having foam". There is also a French adjective, spumescent, which we have already explored.

In Play: Today's Good Word offers us the opportunity of avoiding the cliché "foaming at the mouth": "The senator loudly pontificated at his audience, arms flailing about and bits of spume forming at the corners of his mouth." As the previous example indicated, the verbal applications of today's word are not limited to froth in the literal sense, as is the noun: "When Lana Jorgia saw the smoke spuming out of the oven door, she knew she'd left the roast in too long."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from a PIE root with a Fickle S, an initial S that is sometimes there and sometimes not. In Latin it was spuma "foam" and in Lithuanian it became spaine "mousse". But the Germanic and Slavic languages lost the initial S, so we find foam in English, Feim in Middle High German, and pena in Russian. (Today we thank Grogie, the mysterious Lexiterian in the Alpha Agora, for suggesting this lovely foamy Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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