Wednesday, June 17, 2015

New Word Wednesday: sequacious

The word sequacious might call to mind the mighty sequoia, or glittering sequins, or maybe even that sometime political buzzword sequestration. Though it does share an etymological base with the last one, that's where the relationships end.

Lithuanian soldiers marching in Lithuanian cap...
Lithuanian soldiers marching in Lithuanian capital Vilnius 1939 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Naturally, you recognize the -acious ending from words like mendacious, perspicacious, and vivacious, marking the word as an adjective.

The sequa- comes the Latin sequi, inclined to follow. Think sequential.

Sequacious, then, refers to falling into line. The older meaning of the word refers to someone who is a unquestioning follower -- malleable, docile, unthinking. A more modern definition is either "intellectually servile" or "persisting in a single intellectual or stylistic direction."

Either way, it's not a compliment.

from "The Eolian Harp" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

And that simplest lute,
Placed length-ways in the clasping casement, hark!
How by the desultory breeze caressed,
Like some coy maid half yielding to her lover,
It pours such sweet upbraiding, as must needs
Tempt to repeat the wrong! And now, its strings
Boldlier swept, the long sequacious notes
Over delicious surges sink and rise,
Such a soft floating witchery of sound
As twilight Elfins make, when they at eve
Voyage on gentle gales from Fairy-Land,
Where Melodies round honey-dropping flowers,
Footless and wild, like birds of Paradise,
Nor pause, nor perch, hovering on untamed wing!