• conjure •
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.)
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