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Supernal

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Supernal

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:24 pm

• supernal •


Pronunciation: su-pêr-nêl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Celestial, heavenly, divine, coming from or being in the heavens.

Notes: Today's Good Word comes with an adverb, supernally, and a noun, supernality. It is almost an antonym of infernal, which originally meant "belonging to the world below", that is, the world of the dead. These meanings quite naturally led supernal to attract the sense of "heavenly, godly" and infernal to slump into the sense of "hellish".

In Play: Today's word is lovely enough to be included in our most romantic chat: "She seemed not of this Earth, but was possessed of a supernal beauty unlike anything Walter had ever encountered." Its similarity in sound and meaning to supernatural only enhances it. Of course, that does not preclude it from facetious usage: "Our 'supernal' boss has just declared answering personal e-mail on company time a firing offense."

Word History: Middle English borrowed supernal from Old French in the 12th century. The French word came from Latin supernus "located above, celestial", an adjective derived from the adverb and preposition super "above, over, beyond". The Proto-Indo-European root from which Latin super was derived was (s)uper "over". This word seems to have been the comparative degree of (s)upo "under", however improbable that may seem. We find (s)uper in Sanskrit upari "over, above", in Greek hyper "over, above", and in Old English ofer "over", which today is, well, over. (Now let us all wish supernal blessings on Anthony Bowden for suggesting today's heavenly Good Word.)
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Re: Supernal

Postby MTC » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:52 pm

Supernal and beauty are often paired. Perhaps the most famous expression of supernal beauty is Byron's poem,
She Walks in Beauty:

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
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Re: Supernal

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:19 am

MTC: Your poetic choices are supernal.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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