In a word: fecund

August 20, 2012|By John E. McIntyre | The Baltimore Sun

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


Fertility can be potential or actual. Fertile soil has a capacity to produce bumper crops; a fertile couple has the capacity to produce children. While fecund (pronounced FECK-und or FEE-kund) is synonymous with fertile, the word suggests production that has already occurred. A close synonym would be prolific.The noun form is fecundity. As is so often the case, the word has figurative senses as well as literal ones.

Latin gave us the word, from fecundus, an adjective that derives from fecundare, a verb meaning "to make fruitful."

Example: From Alexis de Tocqueville, writing on literature in a democracy: "Short works will be commoner than long books, wit than erudition, imagination than depth. There will be a rude and untutored vigor of thought with great variety and singular fecundity."

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