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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun May 20, 2012 11:09 pm

• aureole •

Pronunciation: aw-ree-ol • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A radiance encircling the head or entire body, common in icons of holy figures; a halo. 2. (Astronomy) The luminescence emanating from a celestial body like the sun, visible to the naked eye only during an eclipse; a corona.

Notes: Today's Good Word has an alternate, the full Latin word it was borrowed from, aureola. Except for this variant, today's word is a lexical orphan, though it has many distant cousins based on the same root, aurum "gold" (see Word History). Be careful in pronouncing this word not to confuse it with oriole, which is prounounced almost identically.

In Play: This isn't the sort of word you usually play with since it is associated with celestial bodies like stars and saints: "In my picture of Margo, her face is surrounded by a mysterious aureole that I can't explain." However, leave it to Dr. Goodword to bring any word down to Earth: "Haifa Lutin talks down her nose to everyone in the office as though she were enveloped in a golden aureole." Try that if you are not getting enough attention around the office.

Word History: Today's Good Word is a reduction of the Latin phrase corona aureola "crown golden = golden crown". Aureola is the feminine form of the adjective aureolus "golden", derived from aurum "gold". The same root underlies the given name of Auric Goldfinger, the villain in the James Bond novel and movie, Goldfinger. Aur- underwent rhotacization, the shift of [s] to [r] seen also in English was and were. The original Proto-Indo-European root was ewes- "to shine". There was no rhotacization in the Germanic languages, so the same root came to rest in German as Osten "east" and English east, the origin of the first shining of the day. (Today we thank William Strockbine for suggesting yet another shining example of the English vocabulary as a Good Word.)
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Postby Slava » Mon May 21, 2012 12:34 am

Here is a very Russian example of today's word:


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Perry Lassiter
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon May 21, 2012 9:59 am

Question: there is a space on the human chest around the nipple that has a darker color than the rest of the chest. I have heard it called an aureole, and that makes sense because it is like a halo. Of course, it can be larger or smaller, darker or lighter, but I assume it's always there. Is this the same word, or is it spelled differently?

Philip Hudson
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Postby Philip Hudson » Mon May 21, 2012 10:51 am

Perry: Different spelling, different etymology. Areola means the small area around the nipple. It comes from Latin meaning a diminutive area.
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Postby bamaboy56 » Wed May 30, 2012 12:29 am

Perry, I do the same as you. I know aureole and areola are two different things but often want to interchange them because of the similar spellings and pronunciation. Just another example of how difficult the English language is to learn.
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