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conjure

Printable Version Pronunciation: kahn-jur Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To bring forth by magical power or incantation. 2. To evoke, to bring forth from nowhere unexpectedly.

Notes: Although respectable writers have used conjurement as a noun for today's verb, conjuration and conjuring are probably used more widely today as the noun for this verb. Someone thought to be capable of magical conjuration is a conjurer.

In Play: The basic meaning of this word today is to bring forth by a magical spell: "Rosemarie's beauty conjured Vance's tongue to lie silent; he couldn't even utter her name." More often, however, it is used in the sense of "get, evoke, come up with", especially if used with the adverb up: "We hope to vacation in Bryce Canyon this year, if we can somehow conjure up the money for the gasoline."

Word History: English captured this word from Old French conjurer "to cast a spell", the direct descendant of Latin coniurare "to pray by something holy". This verb is made up of com- "(together) with" + iurare "to swear". The prefix com- is a variation of the preposition cum "with". The root underlying iurare (remember, Latin had no J), was originally ius- "law, pledge'. The Latin word for "law" was jus (from jur-s) juris, so the root of derivations from this word sometimes contains an S (just, justice) and sometimes, an R (jury, juridical, and today's word.) All are related by a sense of legality or fairness. (Today's Good Word is an act of lustration by Dr. Goodword for confusing today's word with conger, an eel, in his essay on trichotillomania.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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