Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shhhhhhhh!


Helen was rereading Longfellow’s Evangeline after decades of being out of school when she came across an unfamiliar word: “A brief uproar too feeble to ascend by so much as an infantine susurrus to the ears of the British Neptune.”

Susurrus comes from the Latin susurrare, to whisper, to mutter, or to rustle. In the context above, it would mean an almost inaudible sound from a baby.

The root gave rise to susurrate, to whisper, susurration, a murmur or whisper (early on, malicious in nature), insusurration, an insinuation whispered into one’s ear, and susurrous, of the nature of a whisper.


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



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