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Increasing Your Vocabulary: Recrudescence

Although I haven’t seen any headlines recently that put it quite this way, this would be a valid headline: “The recrudescence of eruptions of Kilauea causes people to flee.” This would, of course, be a reference to the recent series of eruptions of the Hawaiian Kilauea volcano. So what does recrudescence mean?

Recrudescence is a noun that refers to a return of activity after a period of inactivity. It applies to the Kilauea volcano because the mountain has been fairly quiet for some time before recently erupting, even though it wasn’t truly inactive.

This word isn’t just appropriate to volcanoes, though. It can be applied to any form of renewed activity after a period of dormancy. For example, throughout much of the north, many animals appear to explode into existence due to the recrudescence of the animals. That is, when they are hibernating, they are fairly dormant and not seen. When they awaken from hibernation, they have renewed activity and become quite visible.

Recrudescence comes from Latin. The prefix ‘re-‘ means ‘again’ or ‘to do again’. The Latin root of the rest of the word is “crudescere” which literally means “to get worse” or “to get raw”. “Crudus” means raw.¬†This is where we get the word “crude”, which can still be used to mean raw. Crude oil is oil that is raw and hasn’t been refined. Crude diamonds are diamonds that are raw and haven’t yet been graded or cut. The word has been used for at least 400 years.

This is a word that might be a little more difficult to remember, but it is applicable to many objects and events. Come to think of it, in the last month, there has been a recrudescence of gardening in my area since the weather has finally warmed up.

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Written by Rex Trulove

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