Word of the Day : November 5, 2011

visceral

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adjective VIS-uh-rul

Definition

1 : felt in or as if in the internal organs of the body

2 : not intellectual : instinctive

3 : dealing with crude or elemental emotions

4 : of, relating to, or located on or among the internal organs of the body

Did You Know?

The "viscera" are the internal organs of the body -- especially those located in the large cavity of the trunk (e.g., the heart, liver, and intestines). The word "viscera" comes from Latin, in which it has essentially the same meaning. Something "visceral" has to do with the viscera. In a more figurative sense, something "visceral" is felt "deep down." Even in the early years of its use, "visceral" often referred to things emotional rather than physiological. For example, in 1640 an English bishop named Edward Reynolds wrote, "Love is of all other the inmost and most visceral affection." This figurative use is the most common use of "visceral," but the word continues to be used in medical contexts as well.


Examples

The steady, pounding bass lines and infectious harmonies give the music a real visceral punch.

"My mom is the only one who still writes me letters. And there's something visceral about opening a letter -- I see her on the page. I see her in her handwriting." -- Steve Carell, quoted in The Boston Globe Magazine, July 24, 2011



Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "importunate," our Word of the Day from October 22? The answer is ...


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