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ineluctable (adjective)

Friday, March 21st, 2008
From which one cannot escape by struggling; not to be escaped from.

“All glories of all storms of the air that fell, Prone, ineluctable.” - 1880 Swinburne, Thalassius 222 [OED]

Some words are just unbearably wonderful.

Ineluctable. Say it out loud. If you don’t know how, listen to it here (with an American accent).

I remember one whole week I was in love with the word “scissors”.

At the moment, I’m reading an article in the Times Literary Supplement about Beckett and Mallarmé and their investigations of words in another language. It’s quite interesting and I love Mallarmé’s surreal English lessons and books. (Such a fine line between inspiration and too far out in left field!) I can appreciate what they’re doing, but part of me also thinks it can get a little too self-indulgent at times. Here’s a quotation of a quotation that appears in the TLS article:

In 1930, in one of her most free-associating essays, “On Being ill”, Virginia Woolf meditated on the relation between sounding and meaning:

In illness words seem to possess a mystic quality. We grasp what is beyond their surface meaning, gather instinctively this, that, and the other – a sound, a colour, here a stress, there a pause – which the poet, knowing words to be meagre in comparison with ideas, has strewn about his page to evoke, when collected, a state of mind which neither words can express nor the reason explain . . . . In health meaning has encroached upon sound. Our intelligence domineers over our senses. But in illness, with the police off duty . . . words give out their scent and distil their flavour . . . . Foreigners, to whom the tongue is strange, have us at a disadvantage.

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moribund (adjective and noun)

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

A. adjective - At the point of death; in a dying state.
1886 E. L. Bynner “A tangle of brambles and moribund herbs.”

figurative - On the point of coming to an end.
1837 Carlyle Fr. Rev. “The wail of a moribund world.”

B. noun - A person in a dying state.
1835 C. A. Bowles in Corr. w. Southey (1881) “Another person was mortally wounded and his death hourly expected. Every day the moribund’s door was besieged by crowds of anxious inquirers.”

Oh, how I love words. Not to mention the OED (”The definitive record of the English language” it says on their website. Oooooooooow, how exciting!!! Now you see why I got beat up so much in school.) Don’t miss their Word of the Day available by RSS and e-mail.

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