Daily Archives: December 13, 2009


There’s something percussive about this word, the way the stop blows out at the start into the voiceless fricative /s/, with a second pulse ending voiced with /v/. It’s a little reminiscent of a tussle or a tossing, but somehow rather more of coughing – that’s coughing the word and coughing the act. And well enough it should be: tussive is the Latinate adjective relating to coughs, from Latin tussis “cough” (which also gives us the rather good but obsolete tussicate for “cough”). You’re more likely to see its antonym, antitussive – on a box of something you’re taking for a cough (could be dextromethorphan, with its name that sounds like a coughing fit, but if you want your cough down, and I mean down on the ground, well, she’s alright, codeine). Of course, you could take tussive as an encrypted suggestion on how to help head off coughs and colds and obviate antitussives: use vits (as in vitamins). On the other hand, we see suggestion of a plurality of Vituses, and no one is saying dancing relates to coughs!