Sunday, November 18, 2012


Meaning: to pass through, to spread through, or to pervade. Also has a technical sense in the dairy industry, meaning a watery by-product which contains lactose, water, vitamins and minerals; i.e. some of the things that permeate milk. There have been several scare-campaigns in Australia about the use of this product to even out fat or sugar levels in milk.

Semantically impossible.
Usefulness: 5 (Only for the second meaning, and my apologies in advance for the rant you're about to be subjected to. My language snark levels are actually decreasing with age and education, but blatant contradictions of meaning frustrate me no end, particularly when inflicted by not-very-good coffee chains far too early on a Saturday morning. Given the definition above, how can anything be free of permeates, except possibly the physicists' hypothetical ideal vacuum? Even used in its technical dairy sense, milk permeate comes from milk, and everything in it is in milk - hence the name permeate - so saying that various milks are permeate free is ridiculous. If it actually is permeate free, it's not milk, whatever milk is - and if you'd like more discussion on that, I recommend the Gruen Transfer milk episode. /rant)

Logofascination: 1 (I am interested in how long permeate has had this meaning in the dairy industry, and whether I'm right in thinking it's linked to the geological use of permeate, but am yet to find an answer.)

In the wild: For more on the daftness of the permeate free marketing coup in Australia, see here and here.

Degrees: 2

Connections: permeate - impermeable

Which is used in: G&P, Book the Third, LI: Why it is called Pantagruelion, and of the admirable virtues thereof. Pantagruelion is a truly miraculous herb, and of some help to explorers, since:
By the help thereof those remote nations whom nature seemed so unwilling to have discovered to us, and so desirous to have kept them still in abscondito* and hidden from us, that the ways through which their countries were to be reached unto were not only totally unknown, but judged also to be altogether impermeable and inaccessible, are now arrived to us, and we to them.
*related to an earlier meaning of abscond, meaning to hide or conceal.

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