Word of the Day

Saturday, February 06, 2021

limerence

[ li-mer-uhns ]

noun

the state of being obsessively infatuated with someone, usually accompanied by delusions of or a desire for an intense romantic relationship with that person.

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What is the origin of limerence?

Limerence “obsessive infatuation with someone, usually accompanied by delusions of or a desire for an intense romantic relationship with that person” was coined in 1977 by Dorothy Tennov, an American psychologist, in her book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love. Dr. Tennov says of her coinage: “I first used the term amorance then changed it back to limerence… It has no roots whatsoever. It looks nice. It works well in French. Take it from me it has no etymology whatsoever.”

how is limerence used?

What did Henry VIII’s poems express more feelingly than Shakespeare’s, and what did Don Juan, for all his reputation, probably never feel at all? The answer is limerence.

Roy Reed, "Love and Limerence," New York Times, September 16, 1977

Like everything else he’d said, she passed this under the microscope of obsessional limerence.

Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, 2013

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Friday, February 05, 2021

lustrum

[ luhs-truhm ]

noun

a period of five years.

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What is the origin of lustrum?

The Romans liked nothing better than combining religion and politics. In ancient Rome, a lustrum was a lustration, a ceremony of purification performed every five years at the end of a census (the census determined an adult male citizen’s voting rights, military obligations, and tax liability). In Latin lustrum acquired the general meaning “period of five years.” The lustration involved a circular procession with instruments of purification (torches, sacrificial animals), music, hymns, dancing, and it culminated in the sacrifice of the animals. The lustrum of the city of Rome was conducted on the Campus Martius by one of the censors, two senior elected magistrates having considerable power and responsibility, such as conducting the census and policing public morals. Lustrum entered English at the end of the 16th century.

how is lustrum used?

Even in their own lifetimes they knew that from 1797 to 1802 they shared a lustrum of sympathy and love and achievement which were proof against worldly accidents and tribulations.

George Mallaby, "Dorothy Wordsworth: The Perfect Sister," The Atlantic, December 1950

I am not obsessed with the apocryphal trash of any lustrum or decade, nor do I intend to canonize what is fustian because it is a particle of the past. For the poet there is in fact no time passing.

Edward Dahlberg, "Beautiful Failures," New York Times, January 15, 1967

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Thursday, February 04, 2021

lachrymose

[ lak-ruh-mohs ]

adjective

suggestive of or tending to cause tears; mournful.

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What is the origin of lachrymose?

The spelling lachrymose, “suggestive of or causing tears,” is enough to make a person downright weepy. Lachrymose is a learned misspelling of Latin lacrimōsus “weeping, tearful, in tears,” a derivative of the noun lacrima “a tear, weeping, lament.” In preclassical Latin the form was dacrima, which is the original form, lacrima the innovation (as with original Odysseus, the innovative Ulixes, and the hybrid Ulysses). Old Latin dacrima is related to the Greek noun dákryon, the “everyday” word for tears, but it looks quite close to the rare, poetic Greek noun dákrȳma (with a long upsilon) “something to be wept over, a matter for tears” (uttered by the oracle of Delphi). The association of lacrima, dacrima, and dákrȳma was enough to allow medieval scribes to innovate the pseudo-Greek spelling lachrymōsus. Lachrymose entered English in the second half of the 17th century.

how is lachrymose used?

But otherwise this modernized remake of Miss Hurst’s frankly lachrymose tale is much the same as its soggy predecessor. It is the most shameless tear-jerker in a couple of years.

Bosley Crowther, "Sob Story Back: 'Imitation of Life' in Return to Roxy," New York Times, April 18, 1959

Letter to You is rich in lessons for those who want to know what successful aging looks like. Far from being sad or lachrymose, it’s both youthful—loud and hard-charging—and serene and wise.

David Brooks, "Bruce Springsteen and the Art of Aging Well," The Atlantic, October 23, 2020

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