TURGID: swollen, inflated

A fellow blogger began her posting describing a turgid morning, the day after a dinner party on her patio.   My imagination pictured a sultry, damp morning, the dew from the night hanging on the patio furniture, a mist suspended above the moistened grass on the fresh-cut lawn, the sun barely breaking through the fog-like mist to keep a promise of a beautiful summer day.  It was right out of a movie.

Indeed, that seems to be what the author of the blog intended, as she went on to describe the beauty of the day and romantic memories of the party the night before.    But I was caught on the word turgid and decided to pursue it as a subject for this posting.

It was strange to discover that the word turgid is more commonly applied to a familiar medical condition in which one’s abdomen is swollen, inflated perhaps by gas or other not-so-romantic  causes, leading to discomfort and the search for medicinal relief.  Not exactly what I expected.

My suspicion is that the word turgid could have been employed to describe a morning that wasn’t crisp or clear.  It was clouded by the mist and not exactly conducive to sharp images or unencumbered visions.  That’s probably stretching the word a lot, but isn’t that what writers do?  If she was a little foggy herself, awakening from an evening filled with   friends, food, drink, and lazy conversations that may have led to delaying sleep well into the darkened night.  Some people don’t awaken easily, and the night continues to inhabit one’s body, refusing to relinquish it to a new day.  Mornings are sluggish, taking their time unfolding.  That may feel turgid to some people.

I pursued my study of the word and found that Bryan Garner filled out the meaning by relating it to turbid, turpid, and torpid. They all have the same meaning.  He quotes an article from the Charleston Gazette which makes it even more interesting:

“…Is there some way for us in the media to escape the turgid (read turbid) river flowing from our cynical exploitation of Diana’s death and hypocritical lynch-mob reporting of Bill Clinton’s indiscretion?”  (9 Sept. 1998)

Garner’s having selected that piece gives credibility to the idea of using the word metaphorically.  Therefore, I’ve decided to add the word turgid to my lexicon.  I envision using the word in a number of ways:

  • A man who is “full of himself” or “self-inflated” might be described at turgid.
  • When overwhelmed with options and struggling to find the right one a person might have a sense of feeling turgid.
  • A story which has been written without editing, and in which there are too many illustrations might seem  turgid.

I have no idea what the author of the blog meant by her use of it.  I will write a note to her and ask.   But it is one of those reading moments when a word serves the purpose of encouraging  me to embark upon a pursuit which leads to a new place I haven’t visited before.  It was a good trek.

Photo Credit: misty mornng

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  1. Some warm mornings grant us at least a breath of air, but today, even at 5:30 a.m., there was nothing of the sort. I used the word “turgid” to convey the fullness of the air, as if it were swollen with water droplets. I don’t think I’ve used “turgid” to describe a morning before, though I have described a stream as “turgid,” as in bloated or swollen. So using “turgid” to describe the morning has an undertone of muddiness, thickness, unwelcome fullness. Then again, it was early and I was tired, so who knows what I was really thinking? Thanks for riffing on the word.

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