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February 08, 2010

Word of the Day

  • enthrall
  • audio pronunciation
  • \in-THRAWL\
  • DEFINITION

verb

1
: to hold in or reduce to slavery
2
: to hold spellbound : charm
  • EXAMPLES

"For 40 years, the Romero Quartet has enthralled audiences with superb classical guitar playing." (David Stabler, The Oregonian [Portland Oregon], January 8, 2010)

  • DID YOU KNOW?

In Middle English, "enthrallen" meant "to hold in thrall." "Thrall" then, as now, meant "bondage" or "slavery"; it comes from an Old Norse word, "thraell," which is probably related to an Old High German word for servant. In the 16th century, the first known figurative use of "enthrall" appeared in the following advice, translated from a Latin text by Thomas Newton: "A man should not . . . enthrall his credit and honour to Harlots." But we rarely use even this sense of mental or moral enslavement anymore. Today the word is often used in its participle form, "enthralled," which sometimes means "temporarily spellbound" ("we listened, enthralled, to the old woman's oral history"), but more often suggests a state of being generally captivated, delighted, or taken by some particular thing.

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