lu·​cu·​bra·​tion | \ ˌlü-kyə-ˈbrā-shən How to pronounce lucubration (audio) , ˌlü-kə- \

Definition of lucubration

: laborious or intensive study also : the product of such study usually used in plural

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Imagine someone studying through the night by the light of a dim candle or lamp. That image demonstrates perfectly the most literal sense of lucubration. Our English word derives from the Latin verb lucubrare, meaning "to work by lamplight." (That Latin root is related to lux, the Latin word for "light.") In its earliest known English uses, lucubration named both nocturnal study itself and a written product thereof. By the 1800s, however, the term had been broadened to refer to any intensive study (day or night), or a composition, especially a weighty one, generated as a result of such study. Nowadays, lucubration is most often used in its plural form and implies pompous or stuffy scholarly writing.

First Known Use of lucubration

1595, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lucubration

Latin lucubration-, lucubratio study by night, work produced at night, from lucubrare to work by lamplight; akin to Latin luc-, lux

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The first known use of lucubration was in 1595

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Last Updated

14 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lucubration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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