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oneiric

Printable Version Pronunciation: o-nai-rik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: In any way related to dreams or dreaming.

Notes: Today's word is a dream word if ever there was one. Oneiric has but one immediate relative, an adverb oneirically. Its root, oneir-, on the other hand, has produced several others. Oneirology is the study of dreams and we have a broad choice of words meaning the interpretation of dreams: oneirocriticism, oneiroscopy (the "seeing" of dreams), and, of course, my favorite, oneiromancy, one of my 'fortune-telling' words.

In Play: Although it's a bit pedantic, we need today's Good Word because dreamy has taken on a much more specific meaning: "Claude seems to have difficulty distinguishing between the real and the oneiric." Dreams have such a romantic quality that a word clothed in a touch of mystery is most à propos: "The candles, the moonlight, the waves shuffling on the beach lent the evening a comforting oneiric quality." (Wish I were there now, don't you? Well, we can dream, can't we?)

Word History: The Greek word oneiros "dream", from which our Good Word today was created, comes from a Proto-Indo-European word found only in the eastern Indo-European languages. We do not find evidence of it in the Germanic and Romance languages of the West. We find its traces only in Armenian anurj and Albanian ëndërr. But that fact only lends more mystery and romance to this word, given the romantic associations we Westerners cultivate for eastern realms. We must be grateful to the Greeks for preserving it, for other languages besides English have borrowed it from the Greek lending lexicon: French onirique, Spanish onírico, and Italian onirico mean the same thing. English took its version directly from one of these. (Our gratitude today is due Kathleen McCune of Norway for sending us yet another dreamy Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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