Wednesday, May 16, 2012

You Are Getting Sleepy . . .

Claire came across the word somnambulant and figured out from context that it refers to sleepwalking. Both halves of the word are indebted to Latin: somnus means sleep, and ambulare means to walk.

The word part -somn- is also found in insomnia and somnolent, and in the obsolete words levisomnous (light-sleeping or easily awakened), semisomnous (half asleep), and somniculous (inducing sleep).

The -ambul- sequence shows up in words such as ambulance, ambulation, ambulatory, circumambulate, funambulation (tightrope-walking), noctambulate (to wander by night), perambulate (to stroll), and the nonce-word vicambulate (to wander about in the streets).

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