( 6 letters | 2 syllables)
(scrabble score – 12)
- 1 |adjective| capable of producing offspring or vegetation.
- 2| adjective| intellectually productive. Prolific.
- (Wolfram Alpha)
- Fruitful in offspring or vegetation.
- Intellectually productive or inventive to a marked degree.
1. Producing or capable of producing an abundance of offspring or new growth; fertile.
2 –Of a woman or women – capable of becoming pregnant and giving birth.
Origin and Etymology
- First known use 1420
- Late Middle English: from French fécond or -Latin fecundus ‘fruitful’.
a 16c. Latinizing revision of the spelling of Middle English fecond (early 15c.), from Middle French fecond (Old French fecont “fruitful”), from Latin fecundus “fruitful, fertile, productive; rich, abundant,” from *fe-kwondo-, suffixed form (adjectival) of Latin root *fe-, corresponding to PIE *dhe(i)- “to suck, suckle,” also “produce, yield.
early 15c., from Latin fecunditatem (nominative fecunditas) “fruitfulness, fertility,” from fecundus “fruitful, fertile” (see fecund).
A Note from Merriam-Webster:
“Fecund and its synonyms ‘fruitful’ and ‘fertile’ all mean producing or capable of producing offspring or fruit, literally or figuratively. ‘Fecund’ applies to things that yield offspring, fruit, or results in abundance or with rapidity (‘a fecund herd’; ‘a fecund imagination’). ‘Fruitful’ emphasizes abundance, too – and often adds the implication that the results attained are desirable or useful – (‘fruitful plains’; ‘a fruitful discussion’). ‘Fertile’ implies the power to reproduce (‘a fertile woman’) or the power to assist in reproduction, growth, or development (‘fertile soil’; “a fertile climate for artists’).”
Having failed to remember the definition of ‘fecund‘ for what I hope is the last time, I now include it in One Word Each Day.The reason for the failing is, I daresay, the same reason that the Merriam-Webster site took pains to explain how ‘fecund‘ might be a less effective choice than ‘fruitful,’ its synonym. The esteemed Dictionary was too couth to be overt with that reason, so allow me.
feces(US) /faeces (UK): Waste matter remaining after food has been digested, discharged from the bowels; excrement.
Seeing and saying the word ‘fecund’ inevitably steer my mind toward the excremental implication of the entirely alternate term ‘feces.’ The power of ‘feces‘ repels audiences, which in itself is interesting. Etymological study brings little transparency:
also faeces, c. 1400, “dregs,” from Latin faeces “sediment, dregs,” plural of faex (genitive faecis) “grounds, sediment, wine-lees, dregs,” which is of unknown origin. Specific sense of “human excrement” is from 1630s in English but is not found in classical Latin. Hence Latin faex populi “the dregs of the people; the lowest class of society.”
1570s, “to purify,” from Latin defaecatus, past participle of defaecare “cleanse from dregs, purify,” from the phrase de faece “from dregs” (plural faeces; see feces). Excretory sense first recorded 1830 (defecation), American English, from French.
Apparently, somewhere in the fuzzy lines of history the word ‘feces‘ or ‘faeces‘ leaped forward in its morphing from what might have been a future where it was used only by specialists, into a sign so repulsive that it alters other terms that merely look or sound like it.
The magic of words lies not in the their changing definitions, but in the meanings derived from those definitions and external factors. Definition is simply the surface form or outline of a word. The meaning provides the worsd’s weight or gravity. The meaning of feces, to my mind, acts as anchor dragging other words along with it to the soggy bottoms the mind’s recesses. ‘Fecund,’ I fear;is but a casualty the dark magic that has been played upon ‘feces.’