In a word

May 30, 2011

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word:

GRACILE

Wallis Warfield Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, supposedly said some version of "A woman can't be too rich or too thin," a motto for anorexics and bony women everywhere. So the goal is to be wealthy and gracile.

Gracile (pronounced GRASS-il) means "slim" or "slender." It derives from the Latin gracilis, "scanty."

By association with the similar word grace, which comes from a completely different Latin root, gratia, it is sometimes understood to mean gracefully slender or even graceful.

Example: In youth he was light on his feet and gracile, but years of late-night beer and pizza slowed his step and thickened his middle.

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