Word of the Day : July 28, 2016

numinous

play
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

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.


Examples

Pilgrims to the shrine spoke to the congregation about their numinous experiences.

"… the stories, different as they were from one another, shared a sense of horror as something numinous and elusive, too tricky to be approached head-on." — Terrence Rafferty, The New York Times, 5 June 2016



Name That Synonym

Unscramble the letters to create a synonym of numinous meaning "mysterious": AYUCNNN.

VIEW THE ANSWER

Podcast


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!