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January 27, 1975

Connotations of "Exuberant"

Author Affiliations

Evanston, III

JAMA. 1975;231(4):346. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03240160012012

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To the Editor.—  Dr. Hugh H. Hussey (230:1436, 1974) expresses disapproval of the copy editor for whom the phrase "exuberant growth" was a questionable usage of the word "exuberant"; she was unable, he alleges, to "recognize an elegant use of a word when she saw it."I rather suspect that it was her sensitivity to the whole penumbra of word usage we term "connotation" that made her dubious of "exuberant" in a context of neoplasm. "Exuberant" stems from the Latin verb exubero, meaning "to grow richly or thickly," and in most Latin literature, exubero is used in connection with descriptions of fields of grain, and of vineyards. This Latin usage has carried over into our own tongue, so that while "exuberant" does have a literal meaning of "abundantly prolific," it retains its connotative connection with fruitfulness and beneficence. The Oxford English Dictionary gives "abounding in health and vitality" as one