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  • proper n. A taxonomic genus within the family Laminariaceae — a genus of brown algae.

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  • "Laminaria, said the label, written in Daniel Rawlings's flowing script. ... When I opened it, a faint whiff of iodine floated out, but no scent of decay....

    Laminaria is seaweed. Dried, it's no more than paper-thin slips of brownish-green. Unlike many dried seaweeds, though, Laminaria doesn't crumble easily. And it has a most astonishing capacity to absorb water.

    Inserted into the opening of the cervix, it absorbs water from the mucous membranes—and swells, slowly forcing the cervix further open as it does so, thus eventually causing labor to start. I'd seen Laminaria used, even in my own time, though in modern times it was most frequently employed to assist in expelling a dead child from the uterus. I shoved that thought well to the back of my mind, and selected a good piece."
    —Diana Gabaldon, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (New York: Bantam Dell, 2005), 309

    "The Laminaria had been accomplishing its slow, patient work, and Marsali was beginning to have occasional contractions, though we had not really got down to it, yet."
    —Diana Gabaldon, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, 311

    January 31, 2010