What does nacreous mean?

Word count: 145 words

Reading time: half a minute

If you increase your vocabulary you’ll not only help your reading, you’ll also make your writing more precise. Here is my word of the week, nacreous.

I remember being disappointed by the novel Faith by Jennifer Haigh. Even though Haigh clearly knows how to work a plot I found her characters wilted and her style of writing uneven. But the book did teach me a new word: nacreous. I didn’t even need to look it up because she defined it in her sentence:  “It was grey with a nacreous sheen, like the inside of a seashell.”

I always enjoy a little etymology, so I’ve now learned that the root word nacre, comes from Middle French, originally from the Italian naccaro (now nacchera). Ultimately, it possibly originated from the Arabic word nakara meaning “to hollow out,” in reference to the shape of a mollusk shell.

I cannot remember what Haigh was attempting to describe with her adjective but I know that these days, nacreous is often used to describe the appearance of clouds.

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