• undulate •
ên-ju-layt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: 1. To billow, to move gently up and down in a wavy pattern. 2. To have a smoothly rising and falling outline or form.
Notes: Notice that the [d] "palatalizes" before [yu]; the tongue moves from the gum behind the teeth to the palate. [t] becomes [ch] in the same position, e.g. picture. It comes with two adjectives: the verb itself pronounced differently [ên-jê-lêt], meaning "wavy", as 'an undulate leaf' and undulatory. The noun is the expectable undulation.
In Play: Water isn't the only thing that can undulate: "The wheat field undulated in the light breeze blowing over it". Even people can undulate: "As the music became more slithery, Anna Conda's body undulated in perfect rhythm with its beat."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin undulatus "having small waves", past participle of undulare "to billow, rise and fall like a wave" from undula "small wave", diminutive of Latin unda "wave". Latin inherited this word from PIE wed-/wod- "water, wet", source also of Russian voda "water", which underlies vodka, and English wet and water, as well as German Wasser "water". Greek converted the same PIE word into hydor "water", which we see in the Hellenic English borrowings hydrous and hydrant. The relation between water and alcohol shows up, not only in vodka, but again in Irish uisce "water", which English converted into whiskey. Did you ever wonder why we call the letter W "double U"? Latin used the letter V for the sound [ u] and look at W. In early Old English U and V were used interchangeably.
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