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LUKEWARM

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LUKEWARM

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:18 pm

• lukewarm •

Pronunciation: luk-warm • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Tepid, moderately warm, about room temperature. 2. Decidedly unenthusiastic, with moderate interest at best.

Notes: Today's common adjective is nonetheless an oddity in that it seems to be a compound made up of a regular word preceded by a nonexistent one. We do not add luke to other adjectives, e.g. lukeglad, lukebroke, luketall, even though we would understand all these words were we to hear them. As we will see in the Word History, luke is actually redundant.

In Play: Most of us take luke to mean "moderately, slightly" as in the phrase lukewarm water. We then most often use the compound metaphorically in expressions like this: "Matilda received a lukewarm welcome when word slipped out that she was on an inspection tour." Notice that lukewarm has negative connotations when used metaphorically, so that this expression almost means "a cool or chilly reception". Don't forget the original meaning is still there: "Well, the lukewarm bowl of soup set a pretty low level of expectation, which the rest of the meal lived up to admirably."

Word History: The luke in lukewarm comes from Old English hleow "warm", so the word is actually a redundant phrase originally meaning "warm-warm". Old English hleow came from Proto-Indo-European *kole-/kele-/kle- "heat" (PIE [k] > [h] in English) which appeared in Latin as calidus "hot". This word went on to become chaud in French, caliente in Spanish, and caldo in Italian. It also went into calidaria "cooking pot", which became French chaudière "stew pot". The closest our English-speaking ancestors could come to pronouncing this word was chowder, but isn't that an excellent choice for anyone's stew pot? (Our gratitude to Miriam Brown for suggesting today's Good Word is far from lukewarm.)
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Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:25 am

The English say the water is luke instead of lukewarm. According to Saint John, we should be careful that we are not lukewarm.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Postby call_copse » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:20 am

Philip Hudson wrote:The English say the water is luke instead of lukewarm. According to Saint John, we should be careful that we are not lukewarm.


I've not come across that formulation, here so think this may be an error - lukewarm is always used in full to the best of my knowledge as an Englishman. There may of course be a regional variation.
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Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:52 am

call_copse:

I do not think luke, used for lukewarm, is a regional variation. It may be a cultural variation. I know I have heard it on the vintage English comedy TV program "Are You Being Served?" There were several English cultural levels spoken on that show. I have never heard it used in England either. I have had extensive professional interfaces in England, but my only extended social experience is in Yorkshire. Thank you for informing us that it is not ordinary British English.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:54 pm

Philip's reference to St John is Revelation 3:16, where the Greek word is chliaros. The ch stand for the letter chi as seen in Xmas, which is misinterpreted as algebraic, while Cmas is probably acceptable. The chliaros word is suspiciously close to the PIE root, and I suspect that's the source. It means warm and is contrasted with cold and boiling. Some who like to set it geographically point out that Laodicea got its wateer from a 16 mile aqueduct, so it would be about outside temperature by then. They like to contrast Colossae famous for cold well water and another town with hot springs.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Apr 03, 2012 12:43 pm

Glad I'm not half-way in anything I can
think of: LUKEJavan
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Postby call_copse » Wed Apr 04, 2012 6:37 am

Interesting Philip. That show takes me back a bit! I don't think it has aired here much since the original run - I am somewhat affectionate towards it despite the vaguely dubious stereotyping - and I do understand it is a popular export over the pond.

I'd love to see the episode you mean to get the context - they did indulge in fairly in-jokey word play if I recall correctly. Still, I guess it will be tricky to find that particular item, intrigified as I am!
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