Weekly Word: Flocculate

To flocculate means “to aggregate or coalesce into small lumps or loose clusters”. This word obviously doesn’t come up every day. It is used in chemistry, though. From Merriam-Webster:

"In the late 16th century, scientists noticed that the loose masses separated from a solution or suspension through precipitation often resembled tufts of wool..."

Here’s the connection: the Latin word for “tuft of wool” is floccus. The adjective flocculent means “like a tuft of wool”, the flocculating process is called flocculation, and the “loose clusters” themselves are called floccules, flocculi, or flocs.

The word flocculus can also refer to part of the brain, as well as “any of various cloudlike masses of gases appearing as bright or dark patches on the surface of the sun.” I can’t wait to work this one into an everyday conversation!