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Definition: Growing hotter, increasing in heat, or growing more ardent.

Pronunciation: In-cal-ess-sens


The word incalescence and its adjectival form incalescent are comprised of the Latin word calescere, meaning “to grow or become warm or hot” which derives further from the Latin word calere, meaning “to feel or be kept warm”.

Why this word?

While it has been enjoyable having a white Christmas here in New England, the recent temperatures have me longing for a warmer time.  A time when I did not run from the house to the car while navigating an expanse of ice that makes me feel like I’ve entered Doctor Zhivago.  A time when I did not consider fleece an integral part of my wardrobe.  A time when I did not have to explain to a toddler why mittens, and hands that don’t have frostbite, are important.

However, on a more serious note I think of this word in reference to the current state of the environment.  While it may be cold and snowy right now, there is no doubt that the environment overall is warming up, with all the attendant repercussions of such a temperature increase.  While we may not have to live with the effects of global warming, the generations that follow us will.  I am grateful for the chance to show my daughter the snow and to trick her into wearing mittens for her own good because I do not know if she will see and enjoy the same amount of snow in her lifetime as I have seen in mine.

How to use the word incalescence?

“The current incalescence of our deteriorating environment is quite sure to lead to our eventual doom if drastic action is not undertaken, and quickly.”

“As she leaned in towards him, caught up in the escalating incalescence of the moment, she suddenly realized the impropriety of the situation.”

“Despite his best efforts, his incalescent nature made arguments a commonplace occurrence.”


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Written by Kate Fulton

Kate Fulton has a bachelor’s degree in classics and psychology from the University of Massachusetts and is working on a library science degree from Simmons College. She has always been fascinated by words- their usage, spelling, and etymology. Kate may be one of the few people who enjoyed the verbal section of the SAT. Yes, she is a word geek. Currently she bores her husband and young daughter with her love of vocabulary.


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