The Meaning of Flaccid: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of flaccid? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word flaccid, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word flaccid mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language and other dictionaries like Collins English Dictionary and American Heritage, the word flaccid is an adjective that can be used literally to mean not firm or stiff, or lacking a normal or youthful firmness, or it can be used figuratively to describe someone or something that lacks vigor or force. It can also be used in botany to describe a plant part that is deficient in turgor. If a plant has such turgid leaves, they have been cut and allowed to wilt. Then, sometimes people spread the dead cuttings or bud tissue out on trays or racks of bamboo or canvas and can be rolled for use. This is not done to a healthy plant from planters, only true leaves that are dead. 

The pronunciation of flaccid is ˈflæs-cid. Often, something that is flaccid lacks stiffness or elasticity, like a flaccid penis, flaccid cheeks, or some neurological conditions called a flaccid condition in which one might experience flaccid muscles or flaccid paralysis or numbness. This flaccid flesh could occur from low muscle tone, muscle weakness, polio, infection of the involved muscles, or some other abnormal condition that creates a want of firmness. Trauma could affect the skeletal muscle, respiratory muscles, and somatic nerves as could toxins, bacteria, botulism, or a neurotoxin. This could create acute flaccid paralysis or acute flaccid myelitis, a serious condition leading to a flacid body. 

There are many other languages that contain words that mean flaccid. You may notice that many of these words look similar to the word flaccid. This is likely because they have a common root or origin. Often, cognates – which are words that look, sound, and mean similar things across languages – are formed when words share a common ancestor, usually from Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word flaccid is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Swedish: sladdrig‎
  •  Spanish: flácido‎, mole‎
  •  Russian: вя́лый‎, дря́блый‎
  •  Maori: ngongohe‎, kūreherehe‎
  •  German: schlaff‎
  •  Portuguese: flácido‎, fofo‎
  •  Italian: moscio‎ (masc.), flaccido‎
  •  Hungarian: petyhüdt‎, puha‎, erőtlen‎
  •  Bulgarian: отпуснат‎
  •  French: flasque‎

How can the word flaccid be used in a sentence?

The word flaccid can be used in many different sentences in the English language. Using a word in a sentence is a great way to remember its definition. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today, or making flashcards or quizzes to help yourself remember its definition. Below are examples of flaccid.

The whole family lay flaccid on the couch in the living room after the tournament. It tested their endurance and required much exertion, and the young son could not even bring his sweaty body to shower. 

After his dental surgery, Ed’s flaccid mouth muscles gave him a lisp and the threat of suffocation. He could barely lift his own weight in all the confusion and lack of blood.

In this era of flaccid rhetoric, treaties and a hand-shake mean nothing. Few people have the rare ability to be honest. They use vague language in search of balance, but this is a flaccid excuse.

The focus group of skiers was flaccid after a long day on the slopes, and the sound bytes that were supposed to provide the ad executives with information did the opposite.

His flaccid body lay in the dismal crimson light from the shady lava lamp in the corner of the room. This was just the mood the director was going for, and she hopes he didn’t have a flaccid acting performance to match.

What is the origin of the word flaccid?

According to Etymonline, the word flaccid has been used since the 1610s and comes from the French flaccide and Latin flaccidus, meaning flabby or drooping. This comes from flaccus, a word of uncertain origin meaning flabby. One can add different suffixes to flaccid like ly, ness, ity, and cy to form adverbs and nouns like flaccidly (adv.), flaccidness (n.), flaccidity (n.) and flaccescency (n.).

What are synonyms and antonyms for flaccid?

There are numerous different words that can be used in place of the word flaccid. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are useful to know if you are looking to expand your vocabulary or if you are trying to avoid repeating the same word multiple times. This list of synonyms for the word flaccid is provided by Thesaurus

  •  weak
  •  enfeebled
  •  loose
  •  sapped
  •  enervated
  •  limp
  •  soft
  •  inelastic
  •  irresilient
  •  emasculated
  •  flimsy
  •  lax
  •  quaggy
  •  flabby
  •  slack
  •  drooping
  •  weakened
  •  debilitated
  •  nerveless
  •  floppy

There are also numerous different words that have the opposite meaning as the word flaccid. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are also a useful tool in expanding one’s English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word flaccid is also provided by Thesaurus

  •  compact
  •  inflexible
  •  erect
  •  close
  •  compressed
  •  substantial
  •  condensed
  •  impermeable
  •  refractory
  •  hard
  •  stiff
  •  impenetrable
  •  tough
  •  firm
  •  congealed
  •  thick
  •  nonporous
  •  sturdy
  •  rigid
  •  jelled
  •  impervious
  •  solid
  •  concentrated
  •  set
  •  solidified
  •  heavy
  •  unyielding
  •  inelastic
  •  concrete
  •  dense
  •  fine-grained
  •  hardened
  •  close-grained

Overall, the word flaccid means floppy or lacking stiffness. This can be sued both literally and figuratively. The word flaccid can either describe something that is literally floppy, such as a body part or a plant, or it can describe something that is figuratively floppy or wishy-washy. This word is of French origin.

Sources:

  1. flaccid: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. FLACCID Synonyms: 21 Synonyms & Antonyms for FLACCID | Thesaurus 
  3. FIRM Synonyms: 219 Synonyms & Antonyms for FIRM | Thesaurus 
  4. flaccid | Origin and meaning of flaccid | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5. Flaccid | Definition of Flaccid | Merriam-Webster