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From Middle English, early 15th century, in sense “(action of) growing out (of something else)”. Borrowed from Latin excrescentia (abnormal growths), from excrescentem, from excrēscere, from ex- (out) (English ex-) + crēscere (to grow) (English crescent). Sense of “abnormal growth” from 1570s, from earlier excrescency (1540s in this sense).[1]


  • IPA(key): /ɛkˈskɹɛsəns/, /ɪkˈskɹɛsəns/
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Particularly: "US"


excrescence (plural excrescences)

  1. Something, usually abnormal, which grows out of something else.
    • 1847, Charlotte Brontë, chapter 7, in Jane Eyre[1]:
      I have again and again intimated that I desire the hair to be arranged closely, modestly, plainly. Miss Temple, that girl’s hair must be cut off entirely; I will send a barber to-morrow: and I see others who have far too much of the excrescence—that tall girl, tell her to turn round.
    • 1903, Jack London, chapter 7, in The Call of the Wild[2]:
      The squirrels were in hiding. One only he saw,—a sleek gray fellow, flattened against a gray dead limb so that he seemed a part of it, a woody excrescence upon the wood itself.
    • 1907, E.M. Forster, The Longest Journey, Part III, XXXIII [Uniform ed., p. 299]:
      Perhaps he meant that towns are after all excrescences, grey fluxions, where men, hurrying to find one another, have lost themselves.
    • 1933, George Orwell [pseudonym; Eric Arthur Blair], chapter 31, in Down and Out in Paris and London[3], London: Victor Gollancz, OCLC 6082214:
      It is taken for granted that a beggar does not 'earn' his living, as a bricklayer or a literary critic 'earns' his. He is a mere social excrescence, tolerated because we live in a humane age, but essentially despicable.
  2. A disfiguring or unwanted mark or adjunct.
  3. (phonetics) The epenthesis of a consonant, e.g., warmth as [ˈwɔrmpθ] (adding a [p] between [m] and [θ]), or -t (Etymology 2).
    Synonym: vyanjanabhakti
    Antonyms: svarabhakti, anaptyxis
    Hypernym: epenthesis


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  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2021), “excrescence”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.