What does aldehydic mean?

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: aldehydic…

The novel The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro was a book I shouldn’t have bothered to finish. The story — about a young newly married woman living in London who is left a valuable Paris apartment by mysterious French benefactor — was both pedestrian and thoroughly predictable and the writing perfunctory.

There’s a certain type of chick lit  I like to describe as “the sort of thing you’d expect to read in Ladies Home Journal.” This book fit that description perfectly.

The novel’s sole redeeming note? It gave me a word I didn’t recognize: aldehydic. Here’s how the author used it:

This is floral, earthy, and there’s a clean overlay of aldehydic waxiness and soft flowers. 

When I looked up the word in Wikipedia I quickly discovered why I had studiously avoided chemistry in high school. I could barely understand the entry! Nevertheless, I waded through the terrifying molecular diagrams — and equally terrifying text — to learn that an aldehyde is an organic compound formed by the oxidation of alcohols. Whatever that means.

Many fragrances are aldehydes although I still don’t understand how an “aldehydic waxiness” would smell. If any of my readers can solve this mystery, please let me know in the comment box below…

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