Word of the Day : March 6, 2018


verb SKAIR-uh-fye


1 : to make scratches or small cuts in (something, such as the skin)

2 : to lacerate the feelings of

3 : to break up, loosen, or roughen the surface of (something, such as a field or road)

4 : to cut or soften the wall of (a hard seed) to hasten germination

Did You Know?

You get two words for the price of one with scarify. The first scarify appeared in English in the 15th century with the meaning "to make scratches or cuts in" and later developed a figurative application of "cutting" someone emotionally. This word is ultimately derived from a Greek verb meaning "to scratch an outline." The second homograph turned up in the late 18th century and gained currency by the 20th century. This scarify was formed by combining scare with -ify, possibly as a combination of scare and terrify, and it predictably means "to scare or frighten."


"Recent harvests on city-owned land have removed on average about 50 percent of the standing biomass, which is not low-impact forestry. It is done with large, commercial-scale logging equipment that reduces biodiversity and scarifies the forest soil." — Ralph Baker, The Sentinel & Enterprise (Fitchburg, Massachusetts), 18 July 2017

"Canna seeds need to be scarified by filing through the hard shells before they germinate." — Tony Tomeo, The Chico (California) Enterprise-Record, 5 Jan. 2018

Test Your Vocabulary

What 5-letter verb begins with "s" and can mean "to scrape (the feet) along a surface while walking" or "to scratch, gouge, or wear the surface of"?



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