• voluptuary •
Pronunciation: vê-lêp-chu-wer-i • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A sensualist, a hedonist, someone whose life is given over to indulgence in sensual pleasure and luxury.
Notes: Although today's Good Word is generally used as a noun, the suffix -ary on the end of it is more often an adjective marker, so it may be used as an adjective, as 'to lead a voluptuary life'. However, we do have a separate adjective, voluptuous "given to extravagant, sensuous pleasure", as might be a voluptuous feast. We far too often misuse this word in the US in referring to zaftig women.
In Play: Like its near synonym, hedonist, today's Good Word implies physical sensual pleasures with the opposite sex: "Phil Anders is a rake and a voluptuary who enjoys the good life at the expense of rich, attractive widows." It may, however, refer to any luxury at all that appeals to the senses: "Stella Dora loves to prepare lavish candlelight dinners that would please the palate of the most demanding voluptuary."
Word History: English confiscated this word from French voluptuaire, the remains of Late Latin voluptuarius "devoted to pleasure". This adjective came from the adverb volup "with pleasure", a word apparently based on volere "to wish, will", though the origin of -up is hard to explain. The root vol- ultimately goes back to an earlier Proto-Indo-European form, wel-/wol- "wish, will". As you might have already guessed, English well is derived from the same source; so, too, are wealth and will. (Today our gratitude is due that lexical voluptuary Luke Javan for suggesting this dandy Good Word of the day.)