Word of the Day : October 25, 2011


adjective pih-DIK-yuh-lus


: infested with lice : lousy


Several third-graders had to be treated for lice after being exposed to a pediculous classmate.

"We prisoners called ourselves the Jerseys, not out of respect for this vile, pediculous hulk [the prison ship Jersey], but because it was our commonality, the glue that held us in its glorious stink." -- From the 2008 novel Johnny One-Eye by Jerome Charyn

Did You Know?

Count on the English language's Latin lexical options to pretty up the unpleasant. You can have an entire conversation about lice and avoid the l-word entirely using "pediculous" and its relatives. None of the words (from "pediculus," meaning "louse") is remotely common -- most of them are so uncommon that they appear only in our Unabridged dictionary -- but they're all available to you should you feel the need for them. There's "pediculosis," meaning "infestation with lice"; "pedicular," meaning "of or relating to lice"; and "pediculoid," meaning "resembling or related to the common lice." "Pediculid" names a particular kind of louse -- one of the family Pediculidae. And if you'd like to put an end to all of this you might require a "pediculicide" -- defined as "an agent for destroying lice."

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