Monday, July 07, 2008

Lambent


Lambent was the word that showed up on my vocabulary quiz last Tuesday. It refers to a flame that plays lightly over a surface without scorching it. There is light, but no damaging heat. By extension, it can mean radiant or teasing.

Metaphysical poet Richard Crashaw used it to good effect:

When love of us called him to see
If we’d vouchsafe his company,
He left his father’s court, and came
Lightly as a lambent flame,
Leaping upon the hills, to be
The humble King of you and me.

The word comes to us from the Latin lambere, to lick. Here are some other words that contain a lick and a promise.

• abligurition: prodigal expense on meat and drink [L. lingere, to lick]
• catillate: to lick dishes [L. catillus, plate]
• cunnilingus: oral stimulation of the vulva [L. lingere, to lick]
• eclegme: form of medicine of a semifluid consistence, which is licked off the spoon [Gr. ekleixein, to lick out]
• electuary: A medicinal paste, consisting of a powder or other ingredient mixed with honey, preserve, or syrup of some kind [Gr. ekleixein, to lick out]
• lamprey: an eel [The OED tentatively assigns it to the Latin lambere, to lick, and petra, stone, because the creature attaches itself to rocks by means of a sucker]
• lecher: a debauched person [Fr. lêcher, to lick]
• ligurition: glutinous devouring [L. ligurire, to lick up]
• lingible: meant to be licked

SIDEBAR: anatomy of the tongue


Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. There is no archive.

Write to Mike with comments or questions:
wordmallATaol.com
(substitute @ for AT above)


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
http://arbutuspress.com/store_ling.html
or at Amazon.com



Visit the Senior Corner at http://seniors.tcnet.org

Labels: ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Dona Sheehan's prints