Printable Version
Pronunciation: s-fyuz Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: To spread throughout or all over, to permeate or infuse thoroughly.

Notes: English contains several words with the root -fuse with similar meanings. Today's word has a near synonym in perfuse "to pour all over or throughout. Effuse means "to pour forth, usually profusely", as blood from a serious wound or good spirits from a happy person. Infuse is to pour into. The noun for today's word is suffusion, and the adjective is suffusive "tending to suffuse", as 'a suffusive sense of happiness at the arrival of summer'.

In Play: In "Desire under the Elms", Eugene O'Neill sets this scene: "The sky above the roof is suffused with deep colors, the green of the elms glows, but the house is in shadow, seeming pale and washed out by contrast." Suffusion can be a bad thing: "The soil was suffused with so much mercury that nothing could be built on it." It can just as well be good, "Her every word was suffused with warmth and understanding."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a touch-up of Latin suffusus, the past participle of suffundere "to pour under", consisting of sub- "under" + fundere "to pour". The Proto-Indo-European root was gheus- "pour", but initial [gh] became [f] in Latin, and the root was subject to a Fickle N flitting in and out of it. The root appeared without the [n] in Germanic words such as English gut from Old English guttas "intestines" and gust, from Old Norse gustr "a gush of cold air". Gush, too, comes from the same source, and the name of the watery gusher, geyser, was borrowed from an Old Norse relative geysa "to gush". (Forgive us if we gush effusively with gratitude to Lyn Laboriel for suggesting today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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