Printable Version
Pronunciation: kên-flayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: To collapse two or more into one, to combine into one.

Notes: Today's Good Word is the only one we know that precisely expresses the concept of reducing and combining several things to one. Neither collapse nor combine is this specific, which means that conflate is an important word in any vocabulary. The noun is conflation. No adjective seems to have survived, though conflatable "capable of being conflated" is certainly a potentiality.

In Play: Conflation is not simply the mixing of two things together (as dictionaries often claim), but mixing them and reducing them to one: "Our marriage counselor told us that all our problems reside in the difficulty of conflating the schedules of two lives into one." This word is often used in reference to written material: "By conflating her roommate's blog and diary, and plagiarizing the result, Rhoda Book created a prize-winning novel while still in college."

Word History: Today's Good Word goes back to Latin conflare "blow together, melt, fuse (metals)" from con- "(together) with" + flare "blow". The original PIE root *bhle-/*bhlo- also underlies English blow and bladder. Blowing a fire results in a blaze, another related word, though this one blew in from Dutch blasen "to blow up". The Latin stem is also found in inflate, flatulent, and via French, souffl. Souffl "puffed up" is past participle of souffler "to puff up", a word inherited from Latin sufflare, based on sub- "under, below" + flare "to blow".

Dr. Goodword,

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