Word of the Day : April 17, 2011


noun lay-VAY-shun


: the act or an instance of washing or cleansing

Did You Know?

It sounds logical that you would perform a "lavation" in a "lavatory," doesn't it? And it is logical: both words come from Latin "lavare," meaning, appropriately, "to wash." English picked up a few other words from this root as well. In medicine, the therapeutic washing out of an organ is "lavage." There is also "lavabo" (in Latin, literally, "I shall wash"), which in English can refer to a ceremony at Mass in which the celebrant washes his hands, to the basin used in this religious ceremony, or to other kinds of basins. Even the word "lavish," via a Middle French word for a downpour of rain, comes to us from "lavare."


"Instead of careful lavations with a few minims of the miraculous water, she bathed daily in one or another of the springs, and imbibed gallons of the fabulous flow of the streams." -- From Jack Vance's 2004 novel Lurulu

"In Maycomb County, it was easy to tell when someone bathed regularly, as opposed to yearly lavations: Mr. Ewell had a scalded look; as if an overnight soaking had deprived him of protective layers of dirt, his skin appeared to be sensitive to the elements." -- From Harper Lee's 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird

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