numen was our Word of the Day on 11/25/2012. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
Did You Know?
How did numen, a Latin term meaning "nod of the head," come to be associated with spiritual power? The answer lies in the fact that the ancient Romans saw divine force and power operating in the inanimate objects and nonhuman phenomena around them. They believed that the gods had the power to command events and to consent to actions, and the idea of a god nodding suggested his or her awesome abilities-divine power. Eventually, Latin speakers began using numen to describe the special divine force of any object, place, or phenomenon that inspired awe (a mystical-seeming wooded grove, for example, or the movement of the sun), and numen made the semantic leap from "nod" to "divine will or power." English speakers adopted the word during the 1600s.
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up numen? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).