• lacuna •
lê-ku-nê, lê-kyu-nê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A space or gap in something, a missing piece or segment.
Notes: The traditional plural of this word is lacunae, but lacunas is making headway toward establishing itself as an acceptable alternative. Remember, though, lacuna is the singular. The adjective is lacunal.
In Play: Perhaps the most famous lacuna of relatively recent times was the 18 1/2-minute gap in the tape of White House conversations released by President Richard Nixon in 1974. The missing segment contained information critical to the Senate investigation of the Watergate Affair. But any gap or missing part constitutes a lacuna: "Blanche Dwight would have such a lovely smile were it not for the lacuna between her two front teeth."
Word History: Latin lacuna meant "gap, hollow, or pool" and was derived from lacus "lake", borrowed by English as lake after it had passed through French. Lacuna became lagune in French, a spelling English changed to lagoon when it snitched a copy. Lacus is related to several words with similar meanings in Indo-European languages: Greek lakkos, Gaelic loch, as in Loch Ness and Loch Lomond, and Bulgarian lokva "puddle". (Thank you, Lew Jury, for filling the lacuna made by the absence of this Good Word from our series.)