Roar!

Fremescent: Growing Noisy

Jim Dee
Jim Dee
May 27, 2020 · 2 min read

From a Latin word meaning to roar.

The Latin verb meaning to roar is fremere, and it gives us a handful of English words such as today’s word, fremescent, which can mean anything ranging from an emergent, growing murmuring to a perhaps more well-established sound that is growing noisier.

Looking over the other words in the frem- family, the earliest usage with such a roaring or sound-like meaning in English (~ the 1650s) seems to be the word frement, a now-obsolete adjective that meant roaring. (There’s one older , possibly related frem- word, fremish, but it seems too mixed in with Old French to be grouped in with the rest here, and its meaning is not specifically related to sound.)

Around 1820, the word fremitus — meaning a dull roaring noise — started to emerge as an English word. This one was a direct Latin import (meaning, it’s unchanged from its spelling and meaning in Latin), also used in medicine to describe sound vibrations that can be felt within a patient’s chest (used as a diagnostic tool for lung issues).

And that leaves us with one remaining frem- word, fremescence, which means an “incipient” roaring — which is interesting in that, for almost all of these words, the fremescence described isn’t merely a roaring, but an emergent one. It’s that rumbling storm in the far distance, ominously fremescent as it approaches; it’s the voice of the opposition gaining traction against the tyrannical incumbent.

As should be clear from the ~100 write-ups I’ve done by now (and just from general knowledge of word formations), any -escent word indicates that something is growing in nature (e.g., fremescent indicates a growing roaring sound), while any -escence word indicates the thing itself (e.g., fremescence indicates the roaring). This is a worthwhile distinction for writers to learn and employ, as it should come in handy if for many word choices or word constructions called for.

In any case, fremescent is considered a rare adjective by the OED. A few usage examples therein from the 1800s mention “fremescent crowds” or the “fremescent clangor” in the air. Like so many nearly obsolete words (and indeed many obsolete ones), this one seems ripe for wider use, especially in these days when so many oppressed groups are finally starting to be heard and recognized more, thanks to the Internet — their fremescent voices finally amplified to a national audience, their struggles now reaching a wider, more pronounced, more amplified fremescence.

✍🏻 Jim Dee maintains three blogs — Hawthorne Crow, Web Designer | Web Developer Magazine, and Wonderful Words, Defined — and contributes to various Medium pubs. Connect at JPDbooks.com, Amazon, FB, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, or Jim [at] ArrayWebDevelopment.com. His latest screwball literary novel, CHROO, is a guaranteed good time.

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Jim Dee

Written by

Jim Dee

Web guy at ArrayWebDevelopment.com; author of books & blogs. See: JPDbooks.com.

Wonderful Words, Defined

A celebration of awesome, rarely used, highly novel words in the English language.

Jim Dee

Written by

Jim Dee

Web guy at ArrayWebDevelopment.com; author of books & blogs. See: JPDbooks.com.

Wonderful Words, Defined

A celebration of awesome, rarely used, highly novel words in the English language.

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