Saturday, September 3, 2016

Interesting words: Obnubilate

Definition:  Obnubilate is a verb meaning "to cloud over" or "obscure".

Pronunciation: Rhymes with rob tube eh late. 

Origin: According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, "obnubilate" comes from Latin obnuliare meaning "to cover with clouds or fog".

Why use it? Obnubilate is just a great sounding word, I think. Much better than its synonyms. Plus, "obscure" is an adjective AND a verb, which can be confusing. And "becloud" doesn't seem like a real word, even though it is.  Sometimes, Latinate words are wonderful to use; one of the joys of English is that we can often choose between words with different origins. "Cloud" for instance, comes from Old English. It's a short word. Obnubilate sounds grander.

There is here fine criticism, classic wit, poetic dreaming, and some grains of sound doctrine, but so obnubilated with the fumes of German metaphysics, that we become giddy.   from a book review in The Princeton Review about a book by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (I got this from World Wide Words which has some other examples too).


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