• luculent •
Pronunciation: lu-kyê-lênt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: (Rare) Clear, lucid, easily understood.
Notes: This word is rarely used today, retreating quietly and (almost) unnoticed into oblivion. Today's contributor thought it worth the effort to pull back from the brink. The adverb, of course, is luculently and the noun, luculence, the English spelling of luculent-s.
In Play: Luculence is most often associated with explanations: "Gladys Friday gave an extremely luculent explanation of why she was absent from work on Monday. If only the luculence were matched by truth." But we need not look far for other applications: "April Day's garden presented luculent signs that it needed water."
Word History: Today's Good Word in Middle English meant "shiny", from Latin luculentus "lit, full of light", but slowly the figurative meaning elbowed out the original sense. The underlying root of this verb is lux (luc-s) "light". Latin also has a verb lucere "to shine", from the same Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word, which went into the making of both lucid and lucent. The PIE word leuk- "light, shine" went on to become, besides Latin lux, Old English lihtan "light", the ancestor of today's light. In Russian it became luch "beam (of light)". In ancient Greek it emerged in lukhnos "lamp" and, perhaps, lunx "lynx"—from its shining eyes? (We will have to make our gratitude luculent to the mysterious Grogie of the Alpha Agora, for s/he suggested this Good Word in 2006.)