siticulous

There is dry and then there is thirsty dry. There are days when it doesn’t rain and there are days when the ground almost beckons the water from your glass, when a spilled drop is sucked into the soil, when your eyes threaten to pop like Orville Redenbacher’s kernels. And your mouth is like parchment, and the only reason you spill any water is that you drink it so quickly because the dusty spidery fingers of the earth are reaching to tear it from you.

When it’s so dry it’s ridiculous, it’s siticulous.

If your throat is that dry, it’s gotten past sticky or tickling to where it feels there is a stick sticking into it. If your hands are that dry, they may seem suitable for shaking but your grip is so low-friction you can’t uncap a simple jam jar. If your wit is that dry, a joke may pass unnoticed for a fortnight or two. When the weather is that dry, plants and roots gasp open-mouthed like baby birds awaiting a worm. A leaf in such unwatering times is dusty dry. And a word unmoistened for centuries by the speech of moving tongues is siticulous.

Is siticulous. This word siticulous was never much in use and has not been recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary since 1620. It has siblings, sitient meaning ‘thirsty’ and sitiate a verb meaning ‘thirst’; they are all equally dusty. But they’re simple derivations from Latin: the verb sitire ‘thirst’ and the noun sitis also ‘thirst’. Our siticulous needs nothing more meticulous in research; it came from sitis via siticulosus. If you are a stickler you may pick a sense of ‘a bit thirsty’, but Oxford tells us it’s ‘very dry’.

Now go pour yourself a glass of something cold and refreshing. And then say this word. It needs it too.

One response to “siticulous

  1. Philippa Paterson

    At least these words are not like extinct species. At least we can get them out and have them around for an hour or two. At least they will never not be there. So thank you.

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