Word of the Day Archive
Friday August 20, 2010
1. To touch (a body part) lightly so as to excite the surface nerves and cause uneasiness, laughter, or spasmodic movements.
2. To irritate as if by a nip, pinch, or tear.
3. To move with spasmodic convulsions.
Thus, if you vellicate the throat with a feather, nausea is produced; if you wound it with a penknife, pain is induced, but not sickness.
-- Erasmus Darwin, Zoonomia, Volume 1
For they used such mild gentle baths, that Alexander the Great being feverish slept in one. And the Gauls' wives carry their pots of pulse to eat with their children whilst they are in the bath. But our baths now inflame, vellicate, and distress; and the air which we draw is a mixture of air and water, disturbs the whole body, tosses and displaces every atom, till we quench the fiery particles and allay their heat.
-- Plutarch, Plutarch's lives
Vellicate relates to the Latin vellicare, "to twitch."