Definition of afflatus
: a divine imparting of knowledge or power : inspiration
afflatus was our Word of the Day on 12/27/2007. Hear the podcast!
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Did You Know?
Inspiration might be described as a breath of fresh air, and so it is appropriate that inspire derives in part from a word meaning "to breathe" (the Latin spirare). "Afflatus" is a lesser-known word for inspiration that followed a parallel route. "Afflatus," which in Latin means the act of blowing or breathing on, was formed from the prefix ad- ("to, toward") and the Latin verb flare ("to blow"). That same Latin verb gave us such words as "inflate" and (via French) "soufflé." The orator Cicero used "afflatus" in his Latin writings to compare the appearance of a new idea to a breath of fresh air. Nowadays, one often finds the word preceded by the adjective "divine," but poets and artists can find inspiration in the material world as well.
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