What do a great Italian author, the Oxford English Dictionary and Charles Schulz have in common? For the answer, read on.
It isn't everyday that I find a new word (well, a word that is new to me), but when it happens I pay attention. A new word! Where has it been lurking all this time and why haven't I seen it before now? In this case, I was leafing through Why Read the Classics? by Italo Calvino, the great Italian writer known mainly for his fiction. The introductory essay begins with a list of definitions: what is a classic? I was sailing right along until I hit number eight: A classic is a work which constantly generates a pulviscular cloud of critical discourse around it, but which always shakes the particles off. There it was. Pulviscular!
After a quick trip to the OED, it didn't take long to find the root: pulviscle (obsolete and rare), meaning a fine powder or dust, from the Latin pulvis. Not surprisingly, the same root as pulverize.
While learning a new word can be a thrill, remembering it is something else altogether. I need an image to associate with it, and that's where Charles Schulz enters the picture. Who can forget the pulviscular cloud that surrounds Pigpen!
Do you remember the last new word you stumbled upon? Write a comment and share it with us-- we'd love to know!