You Don't Say John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.

In a word: vernal

The Baltimore Sun

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word:


The deciduous magnolias between the house and the garage came into bloom last week, though the cold snap over the weekend has withered a good many blooms, and the daffodils on the south side of the house are budding. Calendar aside, everything is looking vernal.

Vernal, (pronounced VUR-nal) means “happening in or relating to spring,” and it can also mean “fresh and new like the spring.”

It derives ultimately from the Latin verus, an adjective meaning “of spring.”

Example: Charles P. Pierce in “An egghead in Don Zimmer’s clothing,” Esquire, May 2000: “As diligently as baseball romantics sell the notion of spring training as a metaphor for life’s energetic vernal renewal, most geraniums work harder in the spring than baseball people do.”

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