Word of the Day : December 1, 2010

plangent

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adjective PLAN-junt

Definition

1 : having a loud reverberating sound

2 : having an expressive and especially plaintive quality

Did You Know?

"Plangent" adds power to our poetry and prose: the pounding of waves, the beat of wings, the tolling of a bell, the throbbing of the human heart, a lover's knocking at the door -- all have been described as plangent. The word "plangent" traces back to the Latin verb "plangere," which has two meanings. The first of those meanings, "to strike or beat," was sometimes used by Latin speakers in reference to striking one's breast in grief. This, in turn, led to the verb's second meaning: "to lament." The sense division carried over to the Latin adjective "plangens" and then into English, giving us the two distinct meanings of "plangent": "pounding" and "expressive of melancholy."


Examples

The campers were awoken by the plangent howl of a coyote off in the distance.

"Mr. Packard is the finest Candide I’ve seen, singing with rich, plangent tone and acting with an un-self-conscious sincerity that never falters." -- From a theater review by Charles Isherwood in the New York Times, October 27, 2010



Quick Quiz

What synonym of "plangent" rhymes with "soulful"? The answer is ...


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