Thursday, January 22, 2015

Word of the Week: Effluvium

Who's ready for another Word of the Week? 

Word: effluvium

How you say it: [ih-floo-vee-uh m]

What it is: noun

How to pluralize it: effluvia [ih-floo-vee-uh] or effluviums

[Side note: While both effluvia and effluviums are listed as acceptable pluralizations, common usage is the Latin plural for Latin words. Linguistically, we are seeing a shift in this, such as amoeba being pluralize as amoebas instead of amoebae. I think it is best to retain the original pluralization, since we still say 'bacteria' and not 'bacteriums.' Of course, I'm the backwards American who still spells 'amoeba,' not 'ameba' and 'dialogue' not 'dialog,' so maybe I'm just bitter linguistic clinger-on.]  

What it means: 1.) a slight or invisible exhalation or vapor, especially one that is disagreeable or noxious. (Definition courtesy of

[Another side note: Note the fact that 'slight' has to do with volume, not necessarily how offensive or strong its effects are. Also, note that this word works well in a figurative as well as a literal sense.]

Use it three times and it's yours! Using a word three times can help it stick in your memory.

Every time she opens her mouth, it's another effluvium of nonsense.

As they cracked open the mortuary, they were assaulted by the effluvium of rotting flesh.

Sam's breath was such a nostril-offending effluvium that everyone tried to avoid standing to close to him.

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