Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Word of the Day: Mucilaginous

While researching the baobab tree yesterday, one of my sources (none other than Encyclopaedia Britannica) noted that its “large, gourdlike, woody fruit contains a tasty mucilaginous pulp.” I dispute this. I do not think it is possible for something to be both “tasty” and “mucilaginous.” Mucilaginous means, “of, relating to, full of, or secreting mucilage.” Yum. According to my dictionary, mucilage derives from the Latin mucilago, which means “mucus, musty juice.” I’d say that’s very apt.

I’m familiar with the product mucilage; it’s a type of adhesive made of plant gums that was favored by my formidable grandfather with the glass eye. It is one of the ghastliest substances ever. It came in a brown glass, wasp-waisted bottle, and instead of having a lid, it had a slanted fleshy rubber nipple. The nipple had a slit in it, and to use the mucilage one would turn the bottle upside down and squash the nipple down on the item that needed to be bonded. The gelatinous brownish goo would leak unevenly out of the nipple. Upon turning the bottle upright, spittley threads of mucilage would remain suspended from the nipple, eventually to harden into a snotty-looking crust. As far as I know, the only thing mucilage ever did adequately was seal the nipple shut—a humane act, really, if it prevented people from using it again. Truly vile stuff!

So when I read that the baobab fruit is both tasty and mucilaginous, I know that that is most certainly untrue. But I am nonetheless thrilled to have reacquainted myself with the word and will be looking for opportunities to work it into conversations and future blog posts. To take ownership of the word, I will now use it in a sentence.

Rozanne burst into tears when she learned that her banana-nut bread had been denied the blue ribbon at the county fair; wrapping the bread before it had properly cooled rendered the crust mucilaginous and unworthy.


Blogger Jamie said...

So is it safe to assume you're not an okra fan?

12:42 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Yes and no. I quite like pickled okra because the pickling process seems to rid the okra of its mucilaginous properties. However, one time when I was feeling venturesome, I ordered curried okra at an expensive Indian restaurant, figuring that it would be a good way to find out if cooked okra could be prepared to my liking. Nope. The okra retained a high degree of mucilaginicity, and I deeply regretted my choice.

3:42 PM  

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