Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Word A Day: Dehisce

Originally uploaded by littledevilworks.
Garrison Keillor on vocabulary:

"Rhubarb is a vegetable, no matter what the government says: a member of the buckwheat family of herbaceous plants including buckwheat, dock and smartweed, which are characterized by having swollen joints, simple leaves, small petalless flowers and small, dry, indehiscent fruit.

Indehiscent means 'not dehiscent,' not opening at maturity to release the seed. So "indehiscent" means 'hard, dry, holding onto the seed,' which actually describes Norwegians quite well. Most Norwegians consider dehiscence to be indecent. They hold the seed in.

But rhubarb pie comes along in the spring, when we're half crazed from five months of winter -- it's the first fresh vegetable we get, and it makes us dehisce."

Carol Stocker; Rediscovering Rhubarb; Boston Globe; May 16, 1996.


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