• lunatic •
lu-nê-tik • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Crazy, mentally ill. 2. Extremely foolish, "crazy", or eccentric.
Notes: This adjective is probably used more often as a noun meaning "mentally ill or extremely eccentric person" since the noun usage has its own adjective, lunatical [lu-næ-ti-kêl], and abstract noun lunaticness. (Only the Urban Dictionary lists lunaticity and only a lunatic writer would use it.)
In Play: This word is used most often as a noun: "The US news networks are growing to love lunatics of every persuasion more than rational commentators." However, the adjective is still there and used in the most figurative ways: "The United Nations insist that no one can own any part of the moon, but interplanetary auctioneers are selling parts of it at a lunatic price of £10 per acre."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from late Latin lunaticus, a noun derived from luna "moon". The connection between the sense of the root and derivation is the belief that the full moon caused insanity. Compare Old English monseoc "lunatic", literally "moon-sick", German Laune "mood", and New Testament Greek seleniazomai "to be epileptic" from selene "moon". Latin luna is a reduction of PIE leuk-sna- "bright-swimmer". It also became the word for "moon" in Russian, Italian and Spanish (luna), in French (lune), and Portuguese (lua). Leuksna- was a compound noun made up of leuk- "light, brightness" + sna- "swim". We find much evidence for leuk- in IE languages like English light, German Licht "light", French lucide "clear", Armenian lois "light", and Greek leukos "bright, shining". (Now it's time to thank Jack Gaithright for recommending today's enlightening Good Word.)
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