Challenging Word of the Week (May 1)

Greetings Wordles! If it's Monday, then it's time for another installment of the Butter Lamb's Challenging Word of the Week!

This week's word is dehisce (pronounced dih his). It's a verb and it means one of the following:

A)  to destroy

B) to open

C) to conclude or decide

Before I reveal the answer, please let me take a moment to tell you that the Challenging Word of the Week comes to you from the Butter Lamb Reference Library and the book 2,000 Most Challenging and Obscure Words by Norman W. Schur, which the BLRL has within its collection. If you enjoyed this little quiz, be sure to check out the previous Challenging Words of the Week. Just peruse my previous posts in the margin on the right.

Now, the answer to this week's challenging word is: B) to open. Our good friend Mr. Schur explains it like this:

dehisce (dih HIS) vb. To debisce is to gape, open up, crack, or split. The noun for this activity is debiscence (dih HIS uns), which has a special meaning in biology, denoting the bursting of plant capsules for the scattering of seeds. The derivation is from Latin debiscere (to gape, part) and its noun debiscentia (gaping, splitting open ). Writers have used debisce quite outside the field of biology, in describing the splitting of the material in an article of clothing, like the thin silk or voile of a woman's blouse. In such cases, however, we are happy to report that nothing like seeds, or anything else, was scattered.

Is it just me, or is Mr. Schur getting a little blue with this explanation of dehisce? Never mind ....

To follow-up on his claim about the word having a special meaning in biology, I consulted the Penguin Dictionary of Biology by M. Thain and M. Hickman and found this:

Dehiscent: (Of fruits) opening to liberate the seeds e.g., pea, violet, poppy

I guess his story checks out.

See you next time!

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