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Aug 9, 2002
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False cognates

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Red-herring words
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with Anu Garg


(muh-LIF-LOO-uhs) Pronunciation RealAudio

adjective: Smoothly or sweetly flowing, as if like honey.

From Middle English, from Late Latin mellifluus, from melli-, from Latin mel (honey) + fluere (to flow).

Some other words that come from the same root are marmalade, molasses, and the unlikely mildew! One word that has somewhat similar sense and sound but different root is melodious (from melos: song).

"The lambada, a mellifluous, nearly licentious dance from the north-east part of Brazil, piqued the world's interest (and briefly Hollywood's) early in this decade."
What makes Brazil Brazilian? (Brazilians' Passion for Dancing); The Economist (London, UK); Mar 30, 1996.

"Lincoln Center provided a symbolic glossary: the good guys wear green and white, the villains red. Heroes sing mellifluous chant; villains speak; women are played by heavily veiled men."
Edward Rothstein; A Gap Between Cultures Crying Out for a Bridge; The New York Times; Jul 20, 2002.

If you live in Seattle area, join me in a discussion on words on the program "Weekday" on Seattle's NPR affiliate KUOW Radio 94.9 FM, today, Fri, Aug 9, 2002 during 9-10 AM PDT. The call-in number is (800) 289-KUOW. -Anu


A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled. -Barnett Cocks

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