What does pellucid 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: pellucid.

There are certain words I like mainly because of the sound of them. Take, pellucid, for example. Isn’t that a beautiful word?

I encountered it, recently, when I read the book Let the Great World Spin, by Column McCann. Here is the sentence in which he used it:

There was a smattering of hair across his scalp, but his eyes were a pellucid blue. 

Frequently used to describe eyes, the word means “clear” or “translucent” or “something that allows the maximum passage of light.” It also can be used metaphorically, to describe something clear in meaning, expression or style, such as pellucid writing.

The adjective, which dates to the 1610s, comes from the Latin pellucidus meaning “transparent.” And this, in turn, comes from from pellucere meaning to “shine through,” from per- “through” and lucere “to shine.”

Incidentally, there is also an eye disease called pellucid marginal degeneration. It refers to corneal thinning and I imagine that’s why the doctor who invented the term expropriated the word. Too bad, because I think it’s an extraordinarily beautiful one.

Initially, I thought my favourable response could be attributed to the double L sound. But on reflection, I think it’s the entire word: pəˈlo͞osid/ The “pell” makes me think of a bell. And the o͞o sound (reminiscent of the word moon?) is delightful to speak and to hear. 

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