Cultural Watch

Word of the Day: Soniferous


 Soniferous, suhnif-er-uhs, son, adjective


conveying or producing sound


Since World War II biologists have learned much more about the characteristic sounds of many soniferous marine animals.P. VIGOUREUX AND J. B. HERSEY, “SOUND IN THE SEA,” THE GLOBAL COASTAL OCEAN, 1962


The adjective soniferous “conveying or producing sound” is Latinate but not Latin. The first two syllables, soni-, are a combining form of the Latin noun sonus “sound.” The second two syllables, –ferous “bearing, producing,” make a hybrid suffix from the Latin suffix –fer “carrying, bearing” (as in aquifer) and the English suffix –ous “possessing, full of,” which comes via Old French –ous, –eus, –eux from Latin –ōsusSoniferousentered English in the early 18th century.