Better word for floaties?
August 10, 2005 6:43 PM   Subscribe

Is there an antonym to 'sediment'?

Is there a general term for stuff that floats on top of a liquid?

Sediment/precipitate is an adjective for stuff that will fall to the bottom of a liquid. Is there an equivalent term for, say, froth/garbage that rises to the top of a body of water or say froth/aerobic microorganisms that rise to the top of a container of liquid?

One source suggests 'whey' but I suspect that it's more that whey (carbohydrate complexes that exist in milk) behaves this way. I guess 'cream' would, too. 'Froth' (polar molecules complexed with gas and perhaps small insoluble bits) seems a little too strict.
posted by PurplePorpoise to Writing & Language (40 answers total)
flotsam or jetsam maybe? These are strictly discarded stuff (or wreckage) but it always floats.
posted by jmgorman at 6:47 PM on August 10, 2005

I thought of "head," but that may be from drinking too much beer.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:48 PM on August 10, 2005

posted by hot soup girl at 6:51 PM on August 10, 2005

posted by wackybrit at 6:51 PM on August 10, 2005

posted by jenovus at 6:53 PM on August 10, 2005

Or perhaps 'lagend'.
posted by wackybrit at 6:56 PM on August 10, 2005

posted by interrobang at 6:56 PM on August 10, 2005

Supernatant ? That's the scientific term for the liquid that floats above a precipitate or sediment; it might be a bit too specific for what you're after.
posted by delfuego at 7:09 PM on August 10, 2005

Flotsam is what's left floating after a wreck on the water, typically a boat sinking. Jetsam is what is thrown out of the boat before it sinks. So they don't really apply.

Scum is the correct word, I think. Or scud?
posted by zardoz at 7:27 PM on August 10, 2005

must precipitate fall to the bottom? I thought it could be on top. Otherwise: foam, froth, film, -cream...
posted by ParisParamus at 7:32 PM on August 10, 2005

In metal casting, the crap on top of molten metal is dross. More generally, it means waste material.
posted by GuyZero at 7:45 PM on August 10, 2005

Thanks everyone so far (I hope that if the word does exist that someone will be able to venture it forth, though) - I'm no longer convinced that there *is* a "good" word for floaties.

head: I like that!, but...

(lagend) lagan: goods (or wreckage) on the sea bed that is attached to a buoy so that it can be recovered

detritus: decaying plant matter - detritus is an important part of forest floor ecosystems

supernatant: the solution not including insoluble solute

must precipitate fall to the bottom? - hmm, that's a very interesting point; but I can't think of any examples from my experience in chemistry. I can't think of any pure (as in, no complexed gas at ambient pressure) solid that's has a lower specific gravity than the solvent. Some plastics (polyethylene glycol comes to mind) can precipitate and form at the top of a solution, but apply a few gravities to it (ie., centrifuge the mechanical solution) and the PEG pellets to the bottom of the tube.

scud: aside from describing a certain type of cloud, A film or deposit of waste matter appearing on the surface of leather in process after certain operations, esp. bating - sounds about right, but it's not quite satisfying

dross: I like that, but it's a little too specific and it's other meaning (most likely derived from the smelting use) is predominantly garbage or waste

I guess the closest answer so far is scum - it gives "cream of the crop" a whole new meaning, though =)
posted by PurplePorpoise at 7:58 PM on August 10, 2005

I'm not sure what you're looking for is out there beyond what you've already come up with. Scum is close but has the sense of unwanted or yucky stuff as opposed to general stuff. Whey, as far as I can tell, is not used outside of the dairy sense, and froth will only do if there are bubbles. Scud, as far as I can tell, doesn't really relate.

It seems there are a lot of specific terms for this sort of thing but no general term.

On preview, it seems you've come to pretty much the same conclusions.

With tongue in cheek and Latin roots in mind, may I suggest "scandiment" and "ascendate"? Admittedly, made-up words are somewhat less useful than real ones, but often much more entertaining.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go gyre and gimble in the wabe.
posted by musicinmybrain at 8:03 PM on August 10, 2005

I can't find a word, but something precipitates "out" of something else. If the sense you mean is specific to vertical space -- on the bottom vs. on the top -- it's one thing. But a whole other set of antonymic states could be cited: emulsion, condensation, suspension, etc.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:04 PM on August 10, 2005

I've been thinking about the precipitate thing, ParisParamus - I think that you have a very good point. However, precipitate suggests that something was once in solution and has just crashed out. I'm trying to find an inclusive term, especially since a lot of stuff that "rises to the top" wasn't necessarily previously dissolved.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:05 PM on August 10, 2005

musicinmybrain - lol. Ascendate, oh, if only that was a "real" word!

realcountrymusic - I guess we were thinking the same thing at the same time
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:11 PM on August 10, 2005

Oh, hey, musicinmybrain the sed in sediment is from "to sit" - is sistament, stament, or stitament a word?

oh no, I now have a bad flashback on stalagmite/stalactite from elementary school...
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:19 PM on August 10, 2005

Flotesse is an obscure word for "scum or grease floating on the surface of a liquid".
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:51 PM on August 10, 2005

how about floating precipitate? Sorry, I'm just bored....
posted by ParisParamus at 8:53 PM on August 10, 2005

posted by mcsweetie at 8:53 PM on August 10, 2005

"sistament, stament, or stitament"? Not according to my dictionary, and Google seems to agree, giving no results for the first and third and misspellings of "statement" for the second.

I constructed "scandiment" from "to climb," scandere, as in "scandent," which means "climbing, as a plant." But of course the dictionary and Google give me no love for it either.

n. "Flotesse" is the fat which floats on the surface of a liquid, as in skimmed fat or drippings (OED). An interesting find, obiwanwasabi.
posted by musicinmybrain at 8:55 PM on August 10, 2005

Brewers use the term krausen to refer to material that floats on the surface of the wort during fermentation. It includes foam, hop debris, yeast, precipitated proteins and a host of dissolved and non-dissolved other substances.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:59 PM on August 10, 2005

An interesting find, obiwanwasabi.

Thanks. OED online suggests that it may be a plural form of flot ('the scum of a pot of broth when it is boiling'), taken as singular, though it could also be an unrecorded French derivative of floter (to float). Here's a cut'n'paste:

[Perh. the pl. of FLOT n.1, taken as sing. It may however represent an unrecorded F. derivative of floter to float.]

Scum or grease floating on the surface of a liquid; esp. skimmed fat, dripping.

c1440 Promp. Parv. 168/1 Flotyse or flotyce of a pott or other lyke, spuma. 1531 TINDALE Exp. 1 John v. 21 Doest thou make of that had lust to smell to burnt flotesse? 1536 Lett. & Papers Hen. VIII, X. 175, 4 stone of flattesse. 1548 RECORDE Urin. Physick v. 18 Be~syde these is there often tymes [in the urine] as it were a flotes or fattynes on the topp. 1585 2nd Pt. good Huswifes Iewell 12 Frie them with butter or flats.

Heh - floatyse. ;)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:14 PM on August 10, 2005

Another possible word is 'floc.' Unfortunately PurplePorpoise, it isn't terribly inclusive as it is just a fancy word for a precipitate. However, it is used to describe bacterial colonies floating in a fluid medium and may have certain metaphorical value.
posted by catdog at 9:23 PM on August 10, 2005

posted by tellurian at 9:36 PM on August 10, 2005

I suggest scum despite the negative connotations. defines it as:
1. A filmy layer of extraneous or impure matter that forms on or rises to the surface of a liquid or body of water.

This seems to describe just about whatever happens to float on the top of liquids.
posted by Netzapper at 9:38 PM on August 10, 2005

sistament &c - shucks. Too bad.

I *really* like krausen obiwanwasabi - maybe if people used it more, it'd become the accepted term?

re: flot/floc (catdog - I used to teach a "biotech" class to visiting highschoolers; we used to parade the word "floculent" [one of the things we did was to get the kids to extract dead/dying cells from their cheeks so that they could play with their DNA - usually cells pelleted well after centrifugation, sometimes they didn't; we called them "floculent" pellets because they were diffuse - I couldn't figure out why the pellets were called floculent until I was taking an undergrad final as a grad student - I showed up early, got bored, perused an *ancient* textbook to kill time and by accident found an entry detailing why a certain formation of cells were termed floculent - it's because they resembled a loose collection - [a flock] of sheep.)

Ok, so there's probably no *real* word for stuff (whether good/neutral/bad) that hangs around on *top* of liquids.

Sistament would be the made-up word but 'krausen' is probably the most appropriate word and could be potentially used in a more widespread manner and.

I *LOVE* pellicle (tellurian - you kick ass; but that's the microbiologist in me speaking) but it's pretty specific to single celled organisms.

If anyone has a better word, *PLEASE* share, even though I'm marking several entries as best...
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:16 PM on August 10, 2005

ParisParamus - how about floating precipitate? Sorry, I'm just bored....

Don't worry about it. I figure that most people get their answers because the answerers were bored... now, the trolling... (sorry - if you really *do* hold the opinions that you do, but sometimes, it just seems like you're just bored and out to get some attention rather than actually speaking your opinion or out to challenge perceptions.)
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:21 PM on August 10, 2005

I offer, for your delectation:
1) flotage (alt. floatage)*
2) spume
*Unfortunately, flottage works only in French. I was hoping I could make a mildly salacious pun...
posted by rob511 at 10:33 PM on August 10, 2005

I might "nounate" a verb and simply call it the "skim."
posted by klangklangston at 11:13 PM on August 10, 2005

"skim" seems like a winner to me.
posted by Radio7 at 1:57 AM on August 11, 2005

I've also heard "flotesse" in this context, chiefly when describing the raft of proteins that comes together when you're making broth. It rises up through the stock, clarifying it as it goes, and then you skim it off, making it (if you're lucky) perfectly clear -- so you can "read the date on a dime at the bottom of a gallon" as Ruhlman says.
posted by Vidiot at 3:50 AM on August 11, 2005

Hey, "skim." I like that. Simple, direct, and made from a common word that actually does have a noun sense (thin layer or film formed on the surface of something, especially a liquid), though it doesn't get used that much.

The best thing about "skim" is I think it's immediately obvious what you're talking about.
posted by musicinmybrain at 3:57 AM on August 11, 2005

I like skim too. The OED says it hasn't been used in the general sense of 'scum' since the 18th century, but so what? Let's revive it. (It's been used in a variety of more technical senses, like 'a thin layer of ice.')

Flotesse is great and I'm glad to learn the word, but nobody will know what you're talking about. Skim is transparent (um, semantically, that is) and easy to remember.
posted by languagehat at 6:15 AM on August 11, 2005

When you make consume, it's called a raft.
posted by thejimp at 7:12 AM on August 11, 2005

catdog and purpleporpoise danced around it, it is a flocculent (if it's fluffy anyway).
posted by 445supermag at 7:48 AM on August 11, 2005

The scum on the surface that aquatic ecologists call floc, or flocculent, is made of algae/bacteria/fungi and probably some sediment. The name for organisms that live on the surface of a body of water is neuston (comparable term to plankton). But I vote for skim for general use.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:14 AM on August 11, 2005

Woohoo! Best me!
posted by klangklangston at 10:27 AM on August 11, 2005

klangklangston Best me!

Done - and thanks everyone!

I guess the best word would be flotesse and the everyday useage would be skim and a single fluffy floater would be a flocule.

I <3 metafilter.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:37 AM on August 11, 2005

Accretion is a legal term for the build up of land ajacent to bodies of water (I expect it also applies in other contexts). I don't know what the noun for the particles that "accrete" would be but it might give you a root.
posted by Carbolic at 12:16 PM on August 11, 2005

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