Secretive morning name

That would be sebum, which led me almost immediately to semen and smegma: /s/-initial disyllables with accent on the first syllable that refer to bodily secretions.

From Wikipedia:

Sebaceous glands are microscopic exocrine glands in the skin that secrete an oily or waxy matter, called sebum, to lubricate and waterproof the skin and hair of mammals. In humans, they occur in the greatest number on the face and scalp, but also on all parts of the skin except the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

… Sebaceous glands secrete the oily, waxy substance called sebum (Latin: fat, tallow) that is made of triglycerides, wax esters, squalene, and metabolites of fat-producing cells. Sebum waterproofs and lubricates the skin and hair of mammals. Sebaceous secretions in conjunction with apocrine glands also play an important thermoregulatory role. In hot conditions, the secretions emulsify the sweat produced by the eccrine glands and this produces a sheet of sweat that is not readily lost in drops of sweat. This is of importance in delaying dehydration. In colder conditions, the nature of sebum becomes more lipid and in coating the hair and skin, rain is effectively repelled.

The sebum / semen connection is close phonologically, and both nouns refer to bodily secretions, though of very different sorts. The noun semen belongs to the formal register of English — it’s originally medical vocabulary — but it’s the closest thing we’ve got to a neutral term, so (like penis and vagina) it’s often used as the polite everyday word; the vernacular term is cum / come, and there are a number of slangy to vulgar variants (jizz, jism, spooge, spunk, cream). The noun sebum, in contrast, is technical, medical vocabulary, period, and there are no generally used alternatives, except for the particular sebaceous secretion known as smegma.

My 3 /20/13 posting “Flowering pears and secretions” notes that Callery pear flowers “smell like smegma”; that smegma is ‘a sebaceous secretion, esp. that found under the prepuce’ (OED2); and that sebaceous means ‘having the nature or characteristcs of sebum; connected with the secretion of sebum’ (OED2).

From NOAD:

noun prepuce /ˈpriˌpjus/: Anatomy 1 technical term for foreskin. 2 the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris.

Smegma is a medical term that seems to have gained some currency as a polite everyday word, insofar as smegma is an allowable topic for polite conversation. Cheese is the slang alternative, dick cheese / cock cheese the street vernacular expressions for the substance in men.

The title of this posting. English has an adjective secretive (usually /ˈsikrɪtɪv/, but /sɪˈkritɪv/ also occurs)  < noun/adj. secret (/ˈsikrɪt/):

adj. secretive:  (of a person or an organization) inclined to conceal feelings and intentions or not to disclose information: she was very secretive about her past. (NOAD)

but that’s not the adjective in the title. The title has a freshly created adjective secretive (/sɪˈkritɪv/) < verb secrete (/sɪˈkrit/). Which would be parallel to excretive < verb excrete, completive < verb complete, etc.


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