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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Oct 24, 2005 11:44 pm

• luxuriant

Pronunciation: lug-zhu-ri-ênt • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Abundant, sumptuous, lush, growing thickly and profusely. 2. Extravagant, excessive. 3. Excessively florid or elaborate, prolix (writing style).

Notes: Today's good adjective is a variant of luxurious but differs significantly in meaning. While luxurious refers to luxury, that which is excessively expensive, serving pleasure and comfort rather than need, luxuriant refers to excess itself. Thick, lush vegetation may be luxuriant but not luxurious. A home may be luxurious but not luxuriant. The noun for this adjective is luxuriance and the adverb, luxuriantly.

In Play: This Good Word is used when thickness or lushness is intended: "When Barry Knoff saw the luxuriant growth of hair on Manley's chest, he knew that he had lost Mary Chase forever." In terms of writing style, today's word refers to wordiness: "Smedley, I find your autobiographical summary for the annual report a bit luxuriant. Could you pare it down to, say, the length of a short story?"

Word History: Today's adjective comes to us, through French, from Latin luxurian(t)s, the present participle of luxuriare "to be luxuriant". This verb is based on luxuria "luxury, extravagance" from luxus which meant "luxury" with a long [u] and "dislocated" with a short one. We cannot be sure whether these are two words or variants of an earlier common ancestor. Luxury is a kind of dislocation from the normal. However, the Greek relative loxos, means "slanting, crosswise", a sense difficult to correlate with luxury.
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M. Henri Day
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Postby M. Henri Day » Tue Oct 25, 2005 11:44 am

It is interesting to note that lussuria, the modern Italian derivative of Latin «luxuria» refers not so much to luxury, as to sexual debauchery :
s. f. desiderio sfrenato di piaceri sessuali; nella teologia cattolica è uno dei sette peccati capitali.

I have often wondered if there does not exist a connexion with English «lechery», but AHD cites Germanic origins for the latter, cf the entry for «lecher» :
[Middle English, from Old French lecheor, from lechier, to lick, to live in debauchery, of Germanic origin; see leigh- in Indo-European roots.]

No PIE origin is provided in the AHD entry for luxury....


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Postby Brazilian dude » Tue Oct 25, 2005 12:55 pm

It is interesting to note that lussuria, the modern Italian derivative of Latin «luxuria» refers not so much to luxury, as to sexual debauchery :

And Portuguese/Catalan luxúria, Spanish lujuria, Romanian luxură, and French luxure.

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Postby gailr » Tue Oct 25, 2005 10:13 pm

English had this usage as common, once:
Hamlet, Act 1; Scene IV:

Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
A couch for luxury and damned incest.


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Postby Stargzer » Wed Oct 26, 2005 12:15 am

I guess only those who could afford luxury had the time for debauchery. . .

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