a flowering or blossoming.
Inflorescence, “the arrangement of flowers on the axis, a flower cluster; a flowering or blossoming,” is a term used mostly in botany. Inflorescence comes straight from New Latin inflōrēscentia, a noun coined by the great Swedish botanist and zoologist Carolus Linnaeus (Carl von Linné), who formalized the system of binomial nomenclature used in the biological sciences. Inflōrēscentia is a derivative of the Late Latin verb inflōrēscere “to put forth flowers, bloom.” Inflōrēscere is a compound verb formed with the preposition and prefix in, in– “in, into,” but also, as here, used as in intensive prefix, and the verb flōrēscere “to begin flowering, increase in vigor.” Flōrēscere in turn is a compound of flōrēre “to be in bloom, be covered with flowers,” a derivative of the noun flōs (inflectional stem flōr-) “flower, blossom,” and the verb suffix –escere, which in Latin often has an inchoative sense, that is, it indicates the beginning of an action, as in rubescere “to become or turn red.” Inflorescence entered English in the 18th century.
To the amateur this opens a field of very interesting amusement: … watching every moment of the plant till it develops its beauties of inflorescence, which, if it prove of new character, is an ample compensation for the time spent upon the process.
During fall and winter starch-grains … form the basis for that lavish expenditure of plant-force by which our orchards and woods are made glorious in the sudden inflorescence of spring.
resembling soap; soapy.
Saponaceous, “soapy,” comes straight from the New Latin adjective sāpōnāceus. (New Latin, also called Modern Latin, is Latin that developed after, say, 1500; it is used especially and typically in the physical sciences, such as zoology, botany, and anatomy.) Sāpōnāceus is formed from the Latin sāpō noun (inflective stem sāpōn-) and the adjectival suffix –āceus, meaning “made of, resembling.” Sāpō means “a preparation for drying or coloring one’s hair,” and it is one of the relatively few words in Latin borrowed from Germanic (as compared to the many, many words in Germanic borrowed from Latin). Saponaceous also has the uncommon sense “slippery, unctuous,” which appeared in the 19th century: “This… judgment was… so oily, so saponaceous, that no one could grasp it.” Saponaceous entered English in the early 18th century.
The fruit of this plant is about the size of a large gooseberry, the outer covering or shell of which contains a saponaceous principle in sufficient abundance to produce a lather with water and is used as a substitute for soap.
The yolk contains natural food for the hair, iron and sulphur; while the white, being a mild alkali, finds its congenial mate in the oil from the sebaceous glands, and they mingle in a saponaceous lather.
the hypothetical initial substance of the universe from which all matter is derived.
Today's word was submitted by one of our readers as part of our Word of the Day Giveaway Sweepstakes! The winner, Matthew Winter, told us: "It makes me think about how everything is connected. All living and inanimate things originate from the same source; we are all ylem."
The modern definition of ylem is “the hypothetical initial substance of the universe from which all matter is derived, originally conceived as composed of neutrons at high temperature and density.” The spelling of ylem comes from John Gower’s 33,000-line poem Confessio Amantis (A Lover’s Confession) finished in 1390: “That matere universall / Which hight Ylem in speciall” (“That universal matter which is called Ylem in particular”). Gower’s ylem is one of several Middle English spellings (also ile, ilem, ylem) from Medieval Latin hȳlēm or ȳlēm, the accusative singular of hȳlē or ȳlē, from Greek hȳ́lē “forest, woodland, wood, firewood”; Aristotle uses the phrase prṓtē hȳ́lē “primary stuff, matter, material.” In 1948 Robert Herman and Ralph Asher Alpher, associates of Russia-born U.S. nuclear physicist George Gamow, adopted the medieval word because, as Alpher said,” it seems highly desirable that a word of so appropriate a meaning be resurrected.”
One can call the mixture of particles ylem ( pronounced eelem ) -the name that Aristotle gave to primordial matter.
The Ylem is the primordial—the Ur-stuff—out of which everything else is made.