This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Sunday Rest: pruinose. Word Not To Use Today.

Sometimes, in a perfect season, the sloes in the hedgerows acquire a bloom that turns them the colour of the deepest, most vivid summer sky.

File:Sloes - - 244004.jpg
photo by Hugh Chevallier

You can get the same sort of powdery coating on grapes and mushrooms, and you can even find a similar thing on the bodies of insects:

File:Common whitetail.jpg
photo: Bruce Martin

That's a Common Whitetail dragonfly, Libellula lydia. The white tail is the bit I'm talking about. The colour seems to be dual-purpose: it's used to frighten off other male dragonflies, and also to reflect away sunlight to keep cool.

Anyway, how do we describe this marvellous and beautiful phenomenon?


Pruinose. I ask you!

And if pruinose isn't more than enough for English speakers to cope with (which it is) then we also have the truly ghastly pruinescence and pruinosity.

Are there any other languages out there that would like to borrow them?


No reasonable offer refused.

Word Not To Use Today: pruinose. This word comes from the Latin pruīnōsus, frost-covered, from pruīna, hoar frost.


  1. Not often I disagree but I rather like this word!

    1. Do you? Well, that's all right, Adele: have it as a gift!