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Word of the Day : December 22, 2010

numinous

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adjective NOO-muh-nus

Definition

1 : supernatural, mysterious

2 : filled with a sense of the presence of divinity : holy

3 : appealing to the higher emotions or to the aesthetic sense : spiritual

Examples

As she listened to the choir sing in the candlelit sanctuary, Marianne was overcome by a sense of numinous awe.

"The instrumental interlude is notated as a musical staff drawn in a circle with eight more musical staffs protruding as 'musical rays.' It’s hard to follow but easy to understand, a thing of numinous visual and aural beauty." --From a review by Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2010



Did You Know?

"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.

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