This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Sunday Rest: leprose. Word Not To Use Today.

Leprose sounds as if it should describe something to do with leprosy, but it doesn't.

The word meaning to do with leprosy is leprous: leprose means to do with lichen.

But not any old lichen.

This lichen is leprose:

And so is this one, (it's a sort called Chrysothrix candelaris).

Gold Dust Lichen (3816260916).jpg

Now, although various dictionary definitions tell me that leprose means having a whitish, scurfy surface, the only instances of the use of the word I can find via Google describe, not the scurfy-surfaced lichens, but the powdery ones. And the images of leprose lichens I have found have all been yellow.

So, who is right about the meaning of the word leprose? Does it mean powdery, as the biologists seem to think, or does it mean white and scurfy?

The biologists may have taken a wrong turning somewhere along the line; but the dictionaries can't be completely right, can they?

Ah well, the confusion must be another reason not to use this word.

So that's good.

Sunday Rest: leprose. This word comes from Latin lepra, which means leper.

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