Words at Play : Top 10 Most "Liked" Words of the Day

#5: Numinous

Definition:

having a mysterious, holy, or spiritual quality

Example:

"The Flinders [Australia] is an astonishingly evocative, numinous place: a landscape where the centuries, the millennia, the aeons all whisper to you." – Matthew Engel, Financial Times, September 2, 2011

About the Word:

Numinous is from the Latin word numen, meaning "divine will" or "nod" (it suggests a figurative nodding, of assent or of command, of the divine head).

English speakers have been using numen for centuries with the meaning "a spiritual force or influence." We began using numinous in the mid-1600s, subsequently endowing it with several senses: "supernatural" or "mysterious" (as in "possessed of a numinous energy force"), "holy" (as in "the numinous atmosphere of the catacombs"), and "appealing to the aesthetic sense" (as in "the numinous nuances of her art"). We also created the nouns numinousness and numinosity, although these are rare.

Photo: Samuel Collins / flickr

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