What does the word ‘slaked’ mean?

Reading time: Not quite a 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: slaked….

I have always associated the word slake or slaked with thirst. But when I recently encountered it in a recent and highly engaging book by Michael Lewis, Premonition: A Pandemic Story, it became apparent it me the word could refer to more than water.

Here is how Lewis used it:

But if Joe Califano felt any need to justify how he’d fired Sencer — the first time a CDC director had been dismissed by a political superior — the book slaked it.

Indeed, it seems the best possible synonym for slake is the word satisfy.

Keen to learn more about the etymology of slaked, I consulted a dictionary. The origin of the word is late Old English: sleacian, or slacian, meaning “to become slack or remiss” or “to delay, to retard.”

First use was recorded in the early 14th century and Shakespeare used the word in his writing. In Henry VI, Part 3, he wrote: “It could not slake mine ire, nor ease my heart.” And in The Rape of Lucrece he wrote: “No flood by raining slaketh. . . .”

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