Word for Wednesday: A is for…Albescent.

Last week I set myself a new linguistic challenge.  So I’ve been revelling in the rosy afterglow, all fired up and inspired.  It has been a really interesting week, mulling over all the possibilities for unfamiliar, quirky ‘A’ words to choose from to start off my alphabet.

When I threw down my own personal gauntlet, I hadn’t expected it to give me such an insatiable appetite for reading. It has also really focused my attention, absorption, and analysis (an avalanche of ‘A’ words.  Unavoidable this week I’m afraid!) of what I am actually reading, too. I have been really pleasantly surprised, as these are lovely, completely unintended side-effects.  I can tell already that I am going to love doing these posts each week.

Anyway, without further ado, this weeks word…

Albescent. (adjective)

Chosen from the book that inspired the challenge, the Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Words (1984, George Stone Saussy III).

  • whitened, faded, bleached.
  • growing or shading into white.
  • to become white, from albuswhite;
  • becoming white or whitish; moderately white; of a pale, hoary aspect; bleached; blanched.
006a_026 copy_edited-1

The albescent beauty of branching coral. Corals become white when the zooxanthellae algae leave the coral exoskeleton, effectively killing the coral. This is a tiny broken fragment, retrieved from the suffocating folds of a huge ghost net which enveloped a coral reef in the Philippines. I was part of a team of volunteer conservationist divers which carefully disentangled  and removed this net. Abandoned fishing nets destroy vast areas of coral and entrap and kill so many fish and other marine life.

I am already thinking of ‘B’ words for next week, but before I go I’ll finish with an example of this week’s word in context.  It is from John Gardner’s (1970) The Wreckage of Agathon, drawn from the examples given in the Penguin Dictionary:

‘Athens – beautiful, albescent as an aging virgin, irrational, tyrannical, deep-dreamed as a wife inexplicably wronged’.

I haven’t found one I like more, but perhaps you know of a better one? Or do you have a better ‘A’ word up your sleeve?  I’m all ears if you’ve got something good to share!


3 thoughts on “Word for Wednesday: A is for…Albescent.

    1. jennylratcliffe Post author

      Thank you, I’m glad you like it. You are very welcome to play too Caroline! I’ll be sharing ‘C’ next week, so come have a look, and if you find a good word with a quote and or picture it would be great to see them. I love finding new interesting words and quotes too. 🙂


  1. Pingback: Word for Wednesday: R is for riparian. | readsbyredriverbanks

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