Word of the Day : January 11, 2011

glabrous

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adjective GLAY-brus

Definition

: smooth; especially : having a surface without hairs or projections

Did You Know?

"Before them an old man, / wearing a fringe of long white hair, bareheaded, / his glabrous skull reflecting the sun's / light...." No question about it -- the bald crown of an old man's head (as described here in William Carlos Williams's poem "Sunday in the Park") is "a surface without hairs." William's use isn't typical, though. More often "glabrous" appears in scientific contexts, such as the following description of wheat: "The white glumes are glabrous, with narrow acuminate beaks." And although Latin "glaber," our word's source, can mean simply "bald," when "glabrous" refers to skin with no hair in scientific English, it usually means skin that never had hair (such as the palms of the hands).


Examples

Unlike the fuzzy peach, the nectarine has a glabrous skin.

"Wounds that involve the glabrous surface of the hand ideally are replaced with skin that possesses the same characteristics as the adjacent skin." -- From Thomas R. Hunt's 2010 book Operative Techniques in Hand, Wrist, and Forearm Surgery



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What is the meaning of "numinous," our featured word from December 22, 2010? The answer is ...


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