Printable Version
Pronunciation: skwelch Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. (Transitive) To quash, put an end to suddenly, curtail abruptly and firmly. 2. (Intransitive) To make a sucking sound like pulling your foot out of soft mud.

Notes: This interesting Good Word has few relatives. Squelchy, the adjective, is derived from the second sense of the noun, "making or apt to make a squelching sound." The noun, on the other hand, belongs to the first sense of squelch. A squelcher is someone who or something that squelches in the sense of "quashes".

In Play: We all know the familiar meaning of this word: "I tried to lighten up the party by doing my impression of the Queen Mother with a lampshade on my head, but my wife squelched it." It's the second meaning that we are not accustomed to hearing very much: "After squelching through the soppy field for a half hour, Milka Macau's boots full of mud."

Word History: The origin of today's Good Word is somewhat murky. Most etymologists think it is onomatopoeic. However, there are enough related words in English to bring that interpretation into question. First of all, it works as well without the initial S: quelch means the same thing. This fact parallels the situation with squash. It, too, can do without the initial S: quash. The third peculiarity is that quell is very similar in spelling and meaning to quelch, but we would have to explain the CH to trace it back through this word. So, its ultimate source is left in the dark. (I wouldn't want to squelch John Young's enthusiasm for suggesting Good Words like today's, so thank you, John.)

Dr. Goodword,

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