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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

ETIOLATE: "to make feeble; to deprive of natural vigor"

Merriam-Webster Online
The Word of the Day for May 27, 2008 is:
etiolate • \EE-tee-uh-layt\ • verb

*1 : to bleach and alter the natural development of (a green plant) by excluding sunlight

2 a : to make pale
b : to deprive of natural vigor : make feeble

Example Sentence:
The bean plants that Grace grew for her lab project became weak and etiolated when they were kept in a dark closet for a week.
Did you know?
When we first started using "etiolate" in the late 1700s (borrowed from the French verb "étioler"), it was in reference to purposely depriving growing celery of light. The word traces back to an Old French word for "straw" and is related to the Latin word for "straw" or "stalk," which is "stipula." Nowadays the term for growing veggies as pale as straw is now more likely to be "blanch," which can mean "to bleach (the leaves or stalks of plants) by earthing, boarding, or wrapping," among other things. "Etiolate" is more apt to refer to depriving plants in general of light; when "etiolated," they are sickly, pale, and spindly. The figurative sense of "etiolate" ("to make pallid or feeble") first appeared in the 1800s as a natural outgrowth of the original sense.

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

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