Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Word Choice Wednesday: Jell

jell

Merriam-Webster says:
1: : to come to the consistency of jelly : congeal, set 2: to take shape and achieve distinctness : become cohesive

Not to be confused with the verb gel, which means... to become a gel, which is what jelly is anyhow. So, actually,  feel free to confuse gel with jell. I'm confused now. Stupid English.

Value:
Both jell and gel are nice little five cent words, short and sweet.

More specific than:
Form, set and most other synonyms. Because of my scientific background, I think of jell specifically in terms of the internal structure that makes gels what they are -- a web of molecules, like a three-dimensional fishing net. It's the creation of an orderly array, so the use of jell in unstructured situations won't ring true for me.

Word relationships:
IMO, the closest synonym to jell is clot, because clots are also a self-arranged structure. They're just not orderly, like gels. Clots can congeal or coalesce, both of which might involve internal structure, but not necessarily.  Cohere is tricky because I tend to think it requires stickiness... but I'm sure that physicists would say that coherent light (a laser) has rigorous internal structure like a gel.

Set and form are both vague and apply to a number of things, like concrete, which have no internal structure. 

What comes to your mind?

5 comments:

Angie said...

Hmmm. I like jell. It's a great word. I never thought of using gel as a verb. I love the words congeal and coalesce. Aren't words wonderful?

ali said...

Yeah! Stupid English!

You managed to make a simple word discussion into something that had me smiling. Thanks for that L!

The Golden Eagle said...

English can be so confusing--what exactly is the point of having two words that mean the same thing? :P

Great post!

Carol Riggs said...

Jell...I guess I think of Jell-O. Which jells quite nicely. I like the 3D fishing net comparison. :)

Have a great Friday and weekend!!

Pk Hrezo said...

I love using this word... just don't get to enough. I'm going to make a point of using it today. :)

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