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Definition: The past participle of ‘maturescere’ – to ‘grow ripe’. Something that is maturescent is something that has ripened.

Pronunciation: Ok – this is an important one to get right. DO NOT say it like you see it. The ‘e’ in the middle is not silent. Thus, it is not pronounced as the rather creepy sounding ‘mature scent’. It is, instead, ‘mah-tuer-ehs-ent’.

Origin: Maturescent appears in the English language around the 1720s – a time when science was beginning to explode (not literally – with the possible exception of chemistry) and new words were needed to describe scientifically observed phenomena. Maturescent is based on the Latin ‘Maturescentum’ – also referring to something that has become ripe.

Why This Word?

Summertime is a wonderful time of year. The sun crawls into a hammock high in the sky for three months and dries up the rain that fell during the spring. The combination of rain and sun causes crops to reach maturescence.

In an ideal world, I’d like to be able to tell you that I wrote about this word because of the link to summer. In reality, I didn’t realise that the ‘e’ was pronounced and I fell into the trap of thinking the word was ‘mature-scent’… Thus, I thought I had an home run – a creepy sounding word that had become obscure – something that could be used on the posters to describe Cocoon II (should they ever make it …)

How to use this word:

Given my mistake, this word should not be written. Feel free to say it aloud in conversation – but write it down and the recipient of your email may just make the same mistake I did and think you oddly enamoured with the scent of the elderly.


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Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


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