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May 17, 2011

Word of the Day

  • saguaro
  • audio pronunciation
  • \suh-WAHR-uh\
  • DEFINITION

noun

: a tall columnar usually sparsely-branched cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) of dry areas of the southwestern United States and Mexico that bears white flowers and a scaly reddish edible fruit and that may attain a height of up to 50 feet (16 meters)
  • EXAMPLES

"For a brief period in spring … the saguaro has a silly aspect, as white flowers bloom atop its columnar trunk, like a frilly little Easter hat … " -- From an article by Christine Temin in The Boston Globe, September 4, 1994

"About two weeks ago in one of the rainstorms a big saguaro fell, and shattered into five or six large pieces about ten feet from the odd knob of basalt above the Gila Monster Mine." -- From Leslie Marmon Silko's 2010 memoir The Turquoise Ledge

  • DID YOU KNOW?

Venture into the Arizonan desert on a May or June morning and you may see the saguaro in bloom. For many of our readers (such as those living in Arizona and southeastern California), this sight -- and the word "saguaro" -- won't be anything new. Or perhaps you know this emblem of all things Southwestern simply as the "giant cactus." The word "saguaro" originated in Ópata, a language spoken by peoples of the Sonoran Desert region of Mexico. It came into English by way of the Spanish spoken by the Mexican settlers of the American West. The very saguaros we see today may well have been around when the word was first noted, some 150 years ago -- this amazing cactus can live for up to 200 years.

Test Your Vocabulary: What 9-letter word beginning with "s" refers to plants (such as cacti) having fleshy tissues that conserve moisture? The answer is ...

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