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Pronunciation: sêr-kyê-los Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Having plant suckers, strong shoots growing from the juncture of a leaf and a major stem or between two stems.

Notes: Sucker!The biological name for "sucker" is surculus or surcle, both now obsolete. Today's word is a derivation of the former word. Back when this word was not obsolete, biologists used the verb surculate "to prune away surcles". This is necessary because surcles sap the main plant, causing it not to grow to its full potential. Down south, where tobacco has to be surculated, the process is simply called suckering.

In Play: The crop with which I am familiar that can be surculose is tobacco: "Al Falfa's tobacco was so surculose, he had to pay more for suckering than his crop was worth." Farm products are not the only thing that may be surculose: "Rose Gardner's peonies were so surculose that the blossoms could not reach their full potential unless the surcles were removed."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a minor modification of Latin surculosus "woody, like wood", from surculus, the diminutive of surus "branch, stake". The same Proto-Indo-European word that produced surus turned up in Old English as sweir "pillar", but it didn't survive to Modern English. Middle High German had a word swir that, too, didn't make it to New High German, but is still preserved as Schwirren "pole" in Swiss German. The PIE ancestor also might have developed into Latin sura "calf (of the leg)", but the semantic case presents problems for the etymologist. For some reason the PIE word didn't spread widely among the Indo-European languages and didn't survive those that preserved it. (Thanks again to the arcane mind of the mysterious Grogie, the Lexiterian in the Agora who is either very old or reads very old books, for recommending yet another esoteric Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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