Why flatulence, flavor and conflate all “blow”

The word flatulence refers to gas trapped in the digestive system, which is often smelly. It comes from Latin flatus “a snorting; a breaking wind”. The root of that is flāre, “to blow”, which has given us many diverse English words around the central idea of little puffs of air being moved around. Below, I’ve list out several more English words that, through this root, relate to “flatulence” and also share this common idea of “blowing”.

flatulence word family

  • flavor: From the older idea of odors being “things that blow” or travel through air
  • soufflé: This delicious, fluffy food term comes from the idea of “blowing into to puff up”
  • conflate: “to confuse and incorrectly mix with something else”. Literally “blow together”
  • inflate: Literally “blowing into”
  • deflate: Literally “blowing out of”
  • afflatus: “a sudden rush of creative energy” from Latin afflatus “a breathing upon, blast” or figuratively “inspiration”

But please don’t think go into a tangent about flatulence the next time you’re at a fancy restaurant and the waiter tells you about the decadent soufflé flavors.

Check out the EtymologyExplorer app if you liked this info! I used it to find and gather all the words of the families. Sometimes wiktionary and Etymonline are used to get more details for a particular word.

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