Printable Version
Pronunciation: i-nyu-bi-layt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To clear of mist, smoke, clouds, or obscurity. 2. To elucidate, clear up, make clear.

Notes: The 1828 Webster's dictionary claims that this word is "[n]ot in use". The OED lists a 1928 published use as its last. Its antonym, obnubilate "to blur, becloud" appears in all the major dictionaries. So, what do we do when we need the antonym of this word? The noun would be enubilation, the positive adjective, enubilative, the passive adjective, enubilable. The negation of this adjective, the one discovered by today's contributor, would be inenubilable "incapable of making clear".

In Play: The original meaning of this word is to clear away clouds of something that obscures vision: "Henrietta turned on the window fan to enubilate the room of smoke." However, that sense has expanded to include metaphoric clouds: "Throckmorton could not enubilate his theory well enough for his audience to understand." Maybe it was inenubilable.

Word History: Today's Good Word is borrowed from Latin as usual. The origin is Latin enubilatus "cleared of clouds", the past participle of enubilare, comprising e(x) "out (from)" + nubilus "cloudy, nubilous", from nubes "cloud". Nubes developed into Portuguese nuvem, Spanish nube, Italian nuvola, and French nuage. Ex comes from Proto-Indo-European eghs "out (of)". It is common in many English words now, like extreme, exterior, extra, and strange, from French estrange. The Balto-Slavic languages turned it into iz "out of", as in the Russian borrowing samizdat "self-publishing", composed of sam "self" + izdat "publishing". Nubes may have had a Fickle S in PIE, for we find snoudha "clouds" in Avestic, a dead Iranian language. (We now pause to extend Pattie Tancred, a subscriber to the Good Word series for twelve years, an unambiguous sign of our gratitude.)

Dr. Goodword,

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