Thursday, August 28, 2008


Darryl from Acme asked, “Where did the term potable water come from?”

It comes from the Latin verb potare, and in this case, it means drinkable water, as opposed to brackish or unsafe water. The root also lies behind a few other words, some of them obsolete.

• compotation (1593) a drinking bout
• impote (1721) to drink heavily
• perpotation (1623) inebriation
• poculum (1846) a drinking vessel
• potable (1425) suitable for drinking
• potate (1612) liquefied
• potation (1428) the consumption of alcoholic beverages
• potative (1590) suitable for drinking
• potator (1620) a tippler
• potatory (1828) drinkable
• poter (1657) a drunkard
• potion (1400) A liquid, usually taken orally, with healing, magical, or poisonous qualities;

SIDEBAR: Making Potable Water

Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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