Today's Word "Emollient"


Published in Vocabulary

emollient \eh-MAHL-yehnt or ee-MAHL-yehnt\ (adjective) - Softening, soothing; making less harsh or abrasive.

"Lucinda often slipped emollient bath oils into Teddy's bath without his knowledge, but they had no effect on his crusty hide."


Today's word is borrowed from Latin emollien(t)s, the present participle of emollire "to soften" comprising ex- (an intensive prefix here) + mollire. "Mollire" comes from from mollis "soft." The original root, *mel- "soft", became both "mild" and "melt" in English but molod "young" in Russian and mlad "young" in Serbian. This was another of those roots with a spare initial [s] that came and went as the mood suited it. With the [s], it turns up in English "smelt" and Yiddish schmalz "chicken grease, excessive sentimentality" from Old High German smalz "animal fat."



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