Printable Version
Pronunciation: skway-myê-los Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Covered with very small scales (squamules).

Notes: The technical term for very small scales is squamules, and today's Good Word is the adjective for this word, created by adding the rather uncommon suffix -ose. Be sure not to confuse it with the much more common -ous. You might try squamulosity to express scaliness involving very small scales; it's less awkward than squamuloseness.

In Play: This is the word to use in discussions about very, very small scales: "Sean discovered that butterfly wings under the microscope are squamulose, covered with tiny imbricated squamules." Of course, size is relative: "Faye Sliff tried every kind of medication to soothe and smooth her squamulose legs but nothing worked."

Word History: Today's word is Latin squamula "a small scale", the diminutive of squama "scale", plus the suffix -ose "having (many)". This suffix is found more often among scientific words than in words in the general vocabulary. The root of squama was apparently derived somehow from squalus "salt water fish", which was also used as an adjective meaning "filthy, slimy". The adjective allowed for a feminine form squala, though not squama. The root of squalus began with a Fickle S that didn't make it to English, where the same root emerged as whale. How could this word be related to squalor "filth"? Well, in Latin it originally meant "roughness", a quality often found on the sides of scaly fish. (It is time to remove any scales from our eyes and express our gratitude to Raven Edwards for suggesting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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