Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
Posts: 4541
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA


Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:29 pm

• languor •

Pronunciation: læng-gêr • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: 1. A melancholy lack of vigor and vitality, repressive lethargy, as from heat or humidity. 2. A somewhat woeful inertia, motionlessness, a mildly sad gravitation to stillness, quiet.

Notes: Today's word belongs to a family of words with a motley assortment of suffixes. One of the two possible adjectives is the perfectly normal languorous with a meaning directly related to the noun. Languid is an alternative that expresses less melancholy. A languid mood is one absent motion or motivation. A languorous one is additionally woeful. The verb is languish, which carries an even stronger sense of sadness; to languish in an isolated spot implies mild desperation at being trapped there with little or nothing to do.

In Play: Anything that dissuades us from activity produces languor: "Buck Shott's natural repugnance to physical labor was well suited for the languor that settled in over his Alabama farm in summer." Otherwise, this Good Word implies wistfulness and just the hint of regret: "William Arami has been foundering in a deep languor ever since Mary Dagai refused his proposal of matrimony." The languor of a cool, windless summer evening is familiar to all of us who live in the country.

Word History: While heat-induced languor may cause your tongue to hang out, today's word is unrelated to French langue "tongue, language", the origin of language. Languor comes from Latin languere "be weak, faint". This verb seems to be semantically related to the Proto-Indo-European root (s)leng- "weak, slack", source of English slack, in fact. The parentheses around the S indicate that it is a Fickle S, sometimes there, sometimes not. The most famous example of this S can be found in the English words cold and scald, which share the same origin. The [n] sound also got lost along the way to English, but then it doesn't show up in another Latin word from the same root missing both the S and the N: laxus (lag-s-us) "weak, slack" whence English lax.
• The Good Dr. Goodword

Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 1079
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:40 am
Location: Pasadena

Re: Languor

Postby MTC » Sun Dec 08, 2013 1:59 am

The paintings of Maxfield Parrish are the avatar of languor. One art critic opined "[His prints] are in a lush and romantic style, set in an escapist world combining elements of the Arabian Nights, Hollywood, and classical antiquity, with languorous maidens and idyllic landscape backgrounds.”

Ian Chilvers from The Oxford Dictionary of 20th Century Art

I have a couple of his vintage prints, not hard to come by in antique stores.

See ... %253AANd9G

Another critic described Parrish's paintings as "momemts of tranquil splendor," a fabulous phrase I have never forgotten.

Perry Lassiter
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 3194
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:41 pm
Location: RUSTON, LA

Re: Languor

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:58 pm

Indeed, and possibly the most languid is Dali's Persistence of Memory. Limp.

Just thought: what would a fob for those watches look like?

Return to “Good Word Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests