A Word A Day : Ossify

Friday, 9th May 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Verb : Transitive & Intransitive )

Pronunciation : ósse-fi


1. To change into bone, to become bony.

2. To become hardened or set in a rigidly conventional pattern.

3. To change into bone, to convert from a soft tissue to a hard bony tissue.

4. To harden, to mold into a rigidly conventional pattern.


Early 18th century - French ossifier - turn into bone - Latin os - bone


petrify, fossilize, harden, become inflexible, become fixed, solidify, fix, paralyze


melt, soften

Contextual Examples:

• The central ideas of liberalism have ossified.

• One is left with the image of a lonely, aging dictator still searching for something that is impossibly elusive, still haranguing his audiences, yet incapable of recognizing the flaws of the system he has created and presiding over an increasingly ossified regime and society.

• Liberation from ossified community bonds is a recurrent and honored theme in our culture, from the Pilgrims' storied escape from religious convention in the seventeenth century to the lyric nineteenth-century paeans to individualism by Emerson ("Self-Reliance"), Thoreau ("Civil Disobedience"), and Whitman ("Song of Myself") to Sherwood Anderson's twentieth-century celebration of the struggle against conformism by ordinary citizens in Winesburg, Ohio to the latest Clint Eastwood film.

• It was a case of fresh, consistent dogmatism against ossified, utilitarian dogma.

• All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions,are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify.

Related Words:

Ossific : Adjective

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