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Word Curio

November 9, 2019

Word of the Day: Macerate

2 CQ

Word of the Day : January 29, 2017

macerate \MASS-uh-rayt\ verb


1 : to cause to waste away by or as if by excessive fasting

2 : to soften by steeping or soaking so as to separate the parts


"Absinthe is made by macerating herbs and spices … with the grand wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) that gives the drink its name." — Julia Reed, Newsweek, 12 Apr. 2010

"Choose whatever berries you'd like for a topping, and let them macerate in the sugar until they yield a little syrup." — Dorie Greenspan, The Washington Post, 10 Aug. 2016

Did You Know?

Macerate is derived from the Latin verb macerare, which means "to soften" or "to steep," and, in Late Latin, can also mean "to mortify (the flesh)." Macerate first entered English in the mid-1500s to refer both to the wasting away of flesh especially by fasting and to softening or steeping. A few other manifestations sprouted thereafter from the word's figurative branch (e.g., the 18th-century novelist Laurence Sterne once wrote of "a city so macerated with expectation"); however, those extensions wilted in time. Today, the "steeping" and "soaking" senses of macerate saturate culinary articles (as in "macerating fruit in liquor") as well as other writings (scientific ones, for instance: "the food is macerated in the gizzard" or "the wood is macerated in the solution").

Aired January 29, 2017

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