Word of the Week: Effloresce

Word: effloresce

Pronunciation: e-flə-RES

Part of Speech: verb

Definition:

  1. lose moisture and turn to a fine powder upon exposure to air
  2. reach an optimum stage of development; blossom

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Here’s another word I learned from the 100 most beautiful words in English. Spring is finally here, so what better time to learn a word related to flowers and blossoming? If you’re inspired to write floral poetry this season, you may find it fun to describe the way the flowers “effloresce”!

To “effloresce” is to blossom or reach an optimum stage of development. To “effloresce” is also to lose moisture and turn to a fine powder upon exposure to air. The word arose in the late 18th century and comes from the Latin verb efflorescere, meaning “to bloom”. This verb comprises the preposition e- “out” and the verb florescere “begin to bloom”, the latter of which derives from the noun floris “flower”.

While the more obvious definition of “effloresce” is “to blossom” due to its relation to the word “flower”, it also functions as a chemistry term referring to salts that crystallize on a surface or to a surface that becomes covered with salt particles. The noun form “efflorescence” is also a chemistry term for the migration of salts through a porous surface (though I much prefer its other meaning: “blossoming”). Be careful not to confuse the verb “effloresce” with “effervesce” (“to give off bubbles” or “to be vivacious and enthusiastic”) or the adjective “efflorescent” with “evanescent” (“soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence”)! If you love writing about flowers or other things that bloom, “effloresce” may be a great word to include in your vocabulary!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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