Monday, November 8, 2010

Another word for today: ineluctable

It’s Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day:

ineluctable \in-ih-LUK-tuh-bul\ adjective
: not to be avoided, changed, or resisted : inevitable


Like drama, wrestling was popular in ancient Greece and Rome. “Wrestler,” in Latin, is “luctator,” and “to wrestle” is “luctari.” “Luctari” also has extended senses — “to struggle,” “to strive,” or “to contend.” “Eluctari” joined “e-” (“ex-”) with “luctari,” forming a verb meaning “to struggle clear of.” “Ineluctabilis” brought in the negative prefix “in-” to form an adjective describing something that cannot be escaped or avoided. English speakers borrowed the word as “ineluctable” around 1623. Another word that has its roots in “luctari” is “reluctant.” “Reluctari” means “to struggle against” — and someone who is “reluctant” resists or holds back.
Ineluctable is a word I know from and always associate with James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922). The word begins the “Proteus” episode, as Stephen Dedalus wrestles with the nature of reality:
Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. Snotgreen, bluesilver, rust: coloured signs.
[“Signatures of all things I am here to read”: from Jakob Böhme (1575–1624), mystic and theologian.]

Related posts
Word of the day: artificer (Another word from Joyce)
Bandbox (Other words, other works of lit)

comments: 3

Pete said...

I admit to not knowing the definition of "ineluctable" until reading that same M-W item in my inbox this morning. On an almost-related note, when I took the ACT umpteen years ago, the only reason I successfully solved the analogy question for "indelible" was having been introduced to the word via the Who song "One Life's Enough." (Wretched song, though it served me well that one time.)

Michael Leddy said...

Everything bad is good for you! I can think of cru (“Orange Crate Art”) and distingué (“Lush Life”). And many blues idioms.

Nick de Vera said...

"Ineluctable" comes up five times in China Mieville's Perdido Street Station.