Printable Version
Pronunciation: spyu-mes-ens Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: Frothiness, foaminess, sudsiness, bubbliness.

Notes: This word is the noun for the adjective spumescent "bubbly, frothy". At the bottom of spumescent lies spume "foam, froth", especially the foam on the breaking waves of the sea. Remember that the initial vowel is pronounced [yu], not simply [u]. (I am currently–May 2015–on my way to Topsail Island, North Carolina, where I plan to enjoy the spumescence with all my family: sisters, children, and grandchildren.)

In Play: Come, dip your feet in meToday's Good Word is closely associated with the sea and the waves it bears: "In the moonlight Ariel's hair reminded Geoff of the spumescence of the surf at Carolina Beach and made him want to be with her there. It was a bit like an epiphany." However, the word refers to foaminess wherever it is found: "The spumescence on the dog's lips convinced Augie that he shouldn't try to pet her."

Word History: Today's Good Word came from an old Proto-Indo-European root with a Fickle S, an initial S that came and went for reasons we cannot fathom. It is there on Latin spuma, the origin of English spume, but not on Russian pena "foam" or Sanskrit pyena "foam". It also dropped off before the Germanic languages inherited it, for we don't find it in either German Feim "surf" or English foam, which share the same source as spuma. The Latin word went on to become spumante "sparkling" in Italian, the name of Italian sparkling wine (Champagne), too. Spanish and Portuguese never liked words beginning with SP, SC, or ST and, so, added an initial E to all words beginning with these clusters, e.g. espuma "foam". (Today we are grateful to the ever-bubbly Mark Bailey, one of the few Grand Panjandra of the Alpha Agora, for suggesting this sparklingly Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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