• opusculum
  • audio pronunciation
  • \oh-PUSK-yuh-lum\
  • DEFINITION

noun

: a minor work (as of literature)
  • EXAMPLES

The book is a collection of opuscula written by the author between her two major novels.

"Little surprise, then, that McCall Smith has written a kindly, avuncular, contemplative opusculum sharing his enthusiasm with the uninitiated." — From an article by Richard Davenport-Hines in The Spectator, November 9, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?

"Opusculum"—which is often used in its plural form "opuscula"—comes from Latin, where it serves as the diminutive form of the noun "opus," meaning "work." In English, "opus" can refer to any literary or artistic work, though it often specifically refers to a musical piece. Logically, then, "opusculum" refers to a short or minor work. ("Opusculum" isn't restricted to music, though. In fact, it is most often used for literary works.) The Latin plural of "opus" is "opera," which gave us (via Italian) the word we know for a musical production consisting primarily of vocal pieces performed with orchestral accompaniment.

Word Family Quiz: What 7-letter relative of "opusculum" can mean "to use and control"? The answer is …

  • MORE WORDS OF THE DAY

Visit our archives to see previous selections ยป

  • FEATURED ITEM FROM OUR STORE
  • PODCAST

Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP

  • SUBSCRIBE

Subscribe to the Word of the Day e-mail

Manage Your Account