Saturday, September 28, 2013

Word of the day: lucubration

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day is lucubration:

noun : laborious or intensive study; also : the product of such study — usually used in plural
The word comes with a helpful explanation:
Imagine someone studying through the night by the light of a dim candle or lamp. That image demonstrates perfectly the most literal sense of “lucubration.” Our English word derives from the Latin verb “lucubrare,” meaning “to work by lamplight.” (Yes, that Latin root is related to “lux,” the Latin word for “light.”) In its earliest known English uses in the late 1500s and early 1600s, “lucubration” named both nocturnal study itself and a written product thereof.
I immediately think of lines from John Milton’s Il Penseroso: “Or let my Lamp at midnight hour, / Be seen in som high lonely Towr.” That was grad school: up late, reading, writing, typing by the light of a desk lamp.

comments: 2

Pete said...

Akin to the traditional image of a writer slaving away in a drafty garret.

By the way, thanks for your lovely letter about your unexpected MLA encounter. I owe you a letter in return, though I doubt I'll have as interesting a story as yours.

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, the garret is like an avant-garde tower. Shelley and Yeats made use of the tower too.

You’re welcome for the letter, Pete. I look forward to reading whatever you send.