"All the windows and doors were topped with lunettes of small-paned glass." From Theodore Dreiser's 1912 novel The Financier
"Past the main doorway, visitors enter the rotunda by walking beneath a striking lunette mural, measuring 84 by 264 inches, painted and signed by Cdr. Dwight C. Shepler." From an article by Wendi Winters in The Capital (Annapolis, MD), January 14, 2012
- DID YOU KNOW?
"Lunette," a word borrowed from French, looks like it should mean "little moon" "luna" being Latin for "moon" and "-ette" being a diminutive suffix. There is indeed some 17th-century evidence of the word being used for a small celestial moon, but that meaning is now obsolete. Earlier, in the 16th century, "lunette" referred to a horseshoe having only the front semicircular part a meaning that still exists but is quite rare. "Lunette" has other meanings too rare for our Collegiate Dictionary but included in our Unabridged. Among these are "a blinder especially for a vicious horse" and, in the plural form, "spectacles." ("Lunettes" is the usual term for eyeglasses in modern French.) The oldest meaning of "lunette" still in common use is "something shaped like a crescent or half-moon," which our evidence dates to circa 1639.
Test Your Memory: What word completes this sentence from a recent Word of the Day piece: "In a spectacular feat of __________, the stuntman leaped from the overpass and landed on top of the train as it passed below." The answer is ...
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