Limbic

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Dr. Goodword
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Limbic

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:59 am

• limbic •


Pronunciation: lim-bik • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. (Science) Borderline, at the edge, as the limbic region of the eye between the cornea and sclera. 2. Pertaining to that system of the brain that controls emotion, memory, and the olfactory senses (smell).

Notes: Limbic is used in the general vocabulary mostly in relation to the limbic system of the brain. It is the adjective for limbus "distinctive border or edge". The adverb is the expectable limbically and the noun would be limbicity.

In Play: Limbic hasn't nudged its way very far out in public; it sticks close to science, referring mostly to the limbic system of the brain: "Limbic capitalism refers to global industries that encourage excessive consumption with appeals to that part of the brain that deals with pleasure and motivation." We could try using it even more metaphorically. Since the limbic system is responsible for our emotions, we might use it as an erudite synonym for emotional: "Paul's reaction to the break-up with his fiancée was quite limbic."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin limbus "border, edge, hem", which Latin inherited from PIE lembh-/lombh-, a nasalized version of leb-/lob- "hang loosely; lip", origin of English lip and lobe. The meaning apparently referred to a fringe, something that hangs loosely from the border of clothes. The nasalized variant also went into the making limb, which may be seen as the fringes of trees and animals. Since fringes are also limp, English developed the adjectives limp and limber from the same PIE word. Limbo, in the sense of "a position of indecision", comes from the Italian word for the purgatories on the outskirts of Hell for pre-Christian saints (Limbo of the Patriarchs), waiting for redemption by Christ, and Limbo of Infants. The latter is permanent because, although infants die too young to have committed sin, they are not freed from original sin. The Caribbean dance, limbo, is a colloquialization of limber, like daddy-o. (Now let's all applaud Frank Myers, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, SUNY Stony Brook, for his decade of participation in the Agora, suggesting Good Words as good as today's.)
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damoge
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Re: Limbic

Postby damoge » Fri Sep 04, 2020 10:20 am

I don't know if I truly never saw it before, or just skipped over it, but I was not aware of the military definition of "limber" till recently.
I assume it is from the same source, given the definition.
According to Wikipedia (not my usual "go to" for definitions) it is:
"A limber is a two-wheeled cart designed to support the trail of an artillery piece, or the stock of a field carriage such as a caisson or traveling forge, allowing it to be towed. ... A caisson (US: /ˈkeɪsɒn/) is a two-wheeled cart designed to carry artillery ammunition; the British term is "ammunition waggon".
Everything works out, one way or another

rrentner
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Re: Limbic

Postby rrentner » Fri Sep 04, 2020 11:19 am

I use liminal to refer to things on the border, or in transition. Liminal must be related to the same root word as limbic's. Maybe I'll try using limbic, but that might sound a bit more pretentious than even liminal, which I only use in rather "elevated" conversations.

janedoe
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Re: Limbic

Postby janedoe » Fri Sep 04, 2020 6:37 pm

I,too, thought it must be related to liminal, used in theological or in the Black wedding tradition, of entering a new life.

I spent a long time looking at synonyms for *threshold* b/c I couldn't think of liminal.You would be amazed at how many synonyms!

David Myer
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Re: Limbic

Postby David Myer » Fri Sep 04, 2020 10:41 pm

Liminal is rarely used in Australia. But sub-liminal is of course pretty widespread. If liminal is on the edge then presumably sub-liminal is under the edge - or not quite there.

So, limber is an adjective, a verb and a noun, each with a distinct meaning but all from the same PIE root. Marvellous stuff, English.

I think rrentner should not worry about being seen as pretentious. I recently picked up Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows - a book I loved as a child. It is filled with 'long words' such as you would never see in a children's book today. But I loved the book as a child and many of the unknown words were given meaning by the context. So without ever looking up their definitions, they came to have meaning for me. I wonder if we have a duty to use the right word where we know it and let the rest of the world look it up or learn by the context in which we have used it? Or is that pretentious?

damoge
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Re: Limbic

Postby damoge » Sat Sep 05, 2020 12:17 pm

David,
I agree.
I would say that that course of action is called "teaching".
I think tone of voice and body language are more important than the word used. If I see a look of confusion, I ask if clarification is needed of the word, or the concept.
While I wouldn't suggest trying it in every possible situation, when talking to young people, especially related ones, PLEASE! do use the appropriate word, regardless of the number of syllables.
Everything works out, one way or another

George Kovac
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Re: Limbic

Postby George Kovac » Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:39 am

We live in limbic times. This is limbo. Limbo is not forever.

A week after “limbic” appeared as the Good Word of the day, an intriguing essay appeared in the Financial Times entitled “Lockdown beards: an alternative theory.” The writer, Gillian Tett, argues that lockdown beards—which have become popular among “normally clean-shaven professional men”—should be understood in terms of liminality, the idea that “societies use rituals and symbols to mark moments of transition from one state to another, or the limbo when someone is at the threshold of change.” Beard-growing, Tett says, reflects "a signal to ourselves and others that this era is not normal.”

Tett sees a positive opportunity to reframe the discussion in these limbic times: “As psychologists often tell clients, liminality can be frightening, but it can also offer a chance to reflect, reboot and reshape. … So perhaps the next time a politician or CEO talks about the unpleasant limbo of lockdown, they should try giving it a sociological spin, presenting it within the framework of ‘liminality’, rather than letting us seem helplessly stuck.”

[Full disclosure: I am a normally clean-shaven professional man who now sports a limbic beard.]
"The messy layers of human experience get pulled together, and sometimes ordered, by words." Colum McCann, But Always Meeting Ourselves, NYT 6/15/09

David Myer
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Re: Limbic

Postby David Myer » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:22 am

Pictures please, George!


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