• funereal •
fyu-ni-ri-êl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Related in any way to a funeral. 2. Like a funeral: mournful, sorrowful, woebegone.
Notes: Today's woeful word is the adjective of funeral. (We hope it doesn't spoil your cheery mood.) It does support an adverb, funereally and, maybe, funereality, if you aren't afraid to stretch it that far. It looks much like its underlying noun, funeral, so be careful of the spelling since it is pronounced quite different from the noun.
In Play: Because English allows nouns to be used as adjectives before other nouns, we tend to use funeral, the noun, in attributive position where today's word would be expected: "The funereal (funeral) proceedings were interrupted by a knock coming from inside the coffin." However, the second sense above can only be expressed by this Good Word itself: "The boisterous laughter gave way to a funereal silence when the stranger announced that he was the new minister at the Methodist Church."
Word History: This oft neglected word comes from Latin funereus, the adjective of funus (funer-) "funeral". The original root was PIE dhou-/dheu "to close, finish, die", with the initial [dh] which, like [bh], often became [f] in Latin. The same stem underlies English dead and death, which comes as no surprise. It is surprising that English dune comes from the same root. Etymologists believe that dune was derived from this root because hills were favorite places for closed fortresses. However, dunes also look like graves. (Now a round of e-applause for Tim Ward, who suggested that we take up today's somber Good Word.)
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