Sally M (sallymn) wrote in 1word1day,
Sally M

Sunday Word: Sere

sere [seer]
1a dry or withered
1b (archaic) threadbare
the series of stages in an ecological succession.


With thick brushstrokes, Ms Harricks summons the sere land and low trees of the Australian bush, the unseen moon turning the ground almost white as the dingo hunts for a rabbit to feed her pups. (Meghan Cox Gurdon, Children’s Books: There Was Never Anything Quite Like 1919 Wall Street Journal, 2020)

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-faced, worse-bodied, shapeless everywhere;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind . (William Shakespeare, 'The Comedy of Errors)

There it hangs, time-yellowed, its pristine freshness vanished quite, yet as fragrant with romance as is the sere and withered blossom of a dead white rose pressed within the leaves of a book of love poems. (Edna Ferber, Cheerful - By Request)

A weird, dreamy stillness had fallen on the purple earth, the dark fir woods, the valley rims, the sere meadows. (L M Montgomery, The Golden Road)

Although change in the composition of the biota over time is a fundamental characteristic of all ecosystems, the rate of changes varies widely in different seres and between the different stages of a single sere. (Ecological SuccessionLiving Nature, 2017)


Old English sear 'dried up, withered, barren,' from Proto-Germanic sauzas (source also of Middle Low German sor, Dutch zoor 'dry'), from PIE root saus- 'dry' (source also of Sanskrit susyati 'dries, withers;' Old Persian uška- 'dry' (adj.), 'land' (n.); Avestan huška- 'dry;' Greek auos 'dry,' auein 'to dry;' Latin sudus 'dry'). A good word now relegated to bad poetry. Sere month was an old name for 'August.' Online Etymological Dictionary)

Sere has not wandered very far from its origins-it derives from the Old English word sēar (meaning 'dry'), which traces back to the same ancient root that gave Old High German, Greek, and Lithuanian words for drying out and withering. The adjective sere once had the additional meaning of 'threadbare', but that use is now archaic. The noun sere also exists, though it isn't common; its meanings are 'a dry period or condition' or 'withered vegetation'. There are also three unrelated nouns spelled sere. They refer to a claw or talon; a series of ecological communities; and a Hebrew vowel point. (Merriam-Webster)

Tags: adjective, noun, old english, s, wordsmith: sallymn

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