Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
October 2nd, 2016
Episode 665 of 765 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 2, 2016 is: deliquesce \del-ih-KWESS\ verb 1 : to dissolve or melt away 2 : to become soft or liquid with age or maturity—used of some fungal structures (as the gills of a mushroom) Examples: "'Number Nine,' a 16-minute bonbon of a ballet …, keeps its yellow-clad ensemble and four principal couples wheeling through kaleidoscopic patterns that surprise as they smoothly crystallize and deliquesce, sometimes matching the musical rhythms, sometimes working against them." — Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times, 26 Sept. 2012 "But wait. If you have the brisket, will there be room for the beef rib? There'd better be, because it is a triumph. The salt-and-pepper-coated smoked meat and fat deliquesce into a sort of beef confit." — Mark Vamos, The Dallas Morning News, 25 Dec. 2015 Did you know? Deliquesce derives from the prefix de- ("from, down, away") and a form of the Latin verb liquēre, meaning "to be fluid." Things that deliquesce, it could be said, turn to mush in more ways than one. In scientific contexts, a substance that deliquesces absorbs moisture from the atmosphere until it dissolves in the absorbed water and forms a solution. When plants and fungi deliquesce, they lose rigidity as they age. When deliquesce is used in non-scientific contexts, it is often in a figurative or humorous way to suggest the act of "melting away" under exhaustion, heat, or idleness, as in "teenagers deliquescing in 90-degree temperatures."