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December 15, 2011

Word of the Day

  • conversazione
  • audio pronunciation
  • \kahn-ver-saht-see-OH-nee\
  • DEFINITION

noun

: a meeting for conversation especially about art, literature, or science
  • EXAMPLES

"There is a memorable description of Lord Gowrie at an elegant conversazione at Mrs Drue Heinz's castle on Lake Como, sweltering in lovat tweeds in the Italian heat after his suitcase flies off to Glasgow without him." -- From a book review by Jane Shilling in The Sunday Times (London), July 20, 2008

"'The Sacred Made Real' [museum exhibition] … leads us on a mystical pilgrimage, its ever-shifting views inviting sculptures, paintings and visitors into a mystical conversazione." -- From an art review by Gauvin Alexander Bailey in Apollo, January 1, 2010

  • DID YOU KNOW?

Writer Horace Walpole is credited with the first English use of "conversazione" in a 1739 letter in which he writes, "After the play we were introduced to the assembly, which they call the conversazione." As this Italian borrowing was used through the years, it gained nuances of meaning. In Italy, it generally referred to a gathering for conversation, but in England it began to be used more for a private meeting. By the 19th century, "conversazione" also referred to assemblies and soirees of people connected with the arts or sciences. The word has two plural forms in English: "conversaziones" and "conversazioni."

Test Your Memory: What is the meaning of "fascicle," our Word of the Day from November 30? The answer is ...

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