Printable Version
Pronunciation: vahl-yê-bêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Talkative, loquacious, talking fluently, readily or incessantly, as 'a voluble if incoherent congressman'. 2. Capable of being rolled up or rotated around, as 'a voluble scroll' or 'the voluble Earth'. 3. Twisting, twining as 'a voluble vine'.

Notes: Here's a single word that replaces several phrases for situations in which we're pressed for time (see Meaning No. 1). The adverb, as expected, is volubly and the noun, volubility or the clumsier volubleness.

In Play: This word is by far most often encountered in what has become its first meaning: "Myna Bird became more and more voluble as questions about her relationship with her husband persisted." Though, if you like to use words in their arcane or even archaic senses, you may say things like this: "The highlight of Perry Winkle's garden were the voluble roses growing up an olive-green trellis."

Word History: This Good Word came from Middle French voluble (Spanish voluble, Portuguese volúvel, Italian volubile), the French remake of Latin volubilis "rotates, rolling, flowing", used figuratively, "fluent, rapid" when speaking of speech. This adjective derives from volvere "to turn around, roll", which Latin inherited from Proto-Indo-European wel- "to turn, revolve", which ran rampant through the Indo-European languages. It emerged in German as walzen "to roll", which was used as the name for what was in the early 19th century as "riotous and indecent dance" (compare English rock and roll). It emerged in Old North French as walet "(bed)roll, knapsack", borrowed by English as wallet. It also developed into German Welle "wave" and the English noun well, which originally referred to artesian wells, water roiling to the surface. (Now we must thank the voluble George Kovac of Miami, Florida, for suggesting today's most valuable Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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