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Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Feb 08, 2014 12:38 am

• immure •

Pronunciation: i-myurHear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To wall something in, to enclose in walls, as to immure a garden to keep the rabbits at bay. 2. To isolate someone by confining them between walls, to imprison. 3. To build or set something in a wall, as to immure a plaque.

Notes: The noun from this verb is immurement, and no one seems to have conjured up an adjective. I suppose you could use immuring as an adjective if you were backed into a corner. Do not confuse immure with inure "to become habituated to, to become hardened by repetition", as to be inured to the heat of the tropics.

In Play: The term "gated community" strikes me as missing the point; today's word would be much more descriptive: "Spaulding was so afraid of the rising tide of thievery, he moved into an immured community that requires identification at the gate to enter." The crime rate might be lower if more parents were a little tougher: "Well, if grounding you for a week doesn't work, we can try immuring you in the basement for a few days!" (A useful empty threat.)

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin immurare "wall in" from in "in" + murus "wall". The root here, mur-, appears in several other English words borrowed from Latin, including mural, intermural, and intramural (between walls) "within an institution" as in intramural sports. The root didn't percolate down to all the Indo-European languages, but it does show up in the Germanic languages as English mere "boundary", found in a word still occasionally encountered, merestone "boundary marker". (We should immure a plaque in a wall at alphaDictionary to commemorate this and all the other Good Words suggested by Mark Bailey over the years.)
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