Printable Version
Pronunciation: ze-rê-skayp Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Landscaping with plants that require little water, such as those that grow naturally in arid regions or deserts.

Notes: This word is so new (see Word History) that it hasn't had time to create a lexical family. It may be used as a verb meaning "to create a xeriscape" so, we are left with the participles, xeriscaping and xeriscaped to work with. Note that this word begins with an X, not a Z, though it is pronounced like a Z.

In Play: Hot and dryXeriscapes may be in the future of America and other countries: "Global warming is behind the growing number of xeriscapes across America." There are personal factors also contributing to the rise of xeriscapes: "Will Doolittle decided to convert his lawn into a xeriscape because he didn't like watering the lawn or paying the water bill for doing so."

Word History: The Denver Water Department first blended xeric "very dry" + landscape to create today's Good Word in 1981. The method was developed by this department to encourage Denverites to save water. Xeric was created from Greek xeros "dry". Landscape was borrowed from Dutch landschap "landscape", comprising land "land" + -schap a suffix meaning "-ship, condition of". In fact, the English suffix -ship derived from the same Proto-Germanic suffix -skepi, which also may be seen today in Danish -skab, German -schaft, and Dutch -schap. It goes back to the PIE word (s)kep-/(s)kop- "to cut, scrap, chop", which also produced English shape and German schaffen "to create". So, the original derivation meant "land creation" or "shaped land". (Especial thanks now go to Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, one of the Good Word's editors for more than a decade, for sharing this word with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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