Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-kreet Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. Grow or build up slowly over time. 2. To accumulate by coalescence, acquire gradually, to draw or attract to itself.

Notes: Here is a word that is an approximate synonym with accrue. The difference is that accrete implies growth while accrue simply means "accumulate" by any means. Accrete is a backformation from its current noun accretion. The adjective accompanying this verb is accretive.

In Play: Stalagmites and stalactites are not the only things that accrete: "The aspects of Horatio's Self accreted in his Facebook profile over the years until he seemed a consequential figure in his region." The implication here is growth, but simple accumulation is also a possibility: "When Horatio posted his photo on Facebook he sat back and watched the comments accrete to it."

Word History: Accrete was a backformation from accretion, which English borrowed from Latin accretio(n) "an increase, growth", a noun based on the past participle, accretus, of accrescere "to increase, grow larger". The verb is made up of ad "(up)to" + crescere "to rise, increase, swell". Crescere was created from a metathesized form of PIE ker-/kor- "to grow", source also of creare "to create" (whittled down to creer by French), the past participle of which is creatus, whence English create. We see the same PIE word in ancient Greek kouros "boy" and kore "girl", and Latin Ceres, the goddess of agriculture and cerealis "related to grain", which English borrowed for its cereal. We also see it in German Hirse "millet". (Now let's all thank Jeremy Busch, the newest member of the GW editorial staff, for doing an excellent job at it and suggesting today's excellent Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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