• librate •
lai-brayt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive
Meaning: 1. To wobble up and down or vibrate in reaching balance, as an old mechanical scale or a beam on a pivot might do. 2. To hover motionless or be poised in a vibrating action.
Notes: Today's Good Word supports a healthy family. The noun is libration and the adjective, libratory, refers to an up and down motion of something coming into balance, as the libratory motion of the surface of the sea.
In Play: One of the best ways to apply this verb is in the description of a bird holding itself motionless in flight by the vibration of its wings: "We were captivated by the way the gull librated above our heads, hoping we might proffer a crumb for two from our lunch." We see libration all around us, though: "Milton gently dozed off, hypnotized by the libration of his children on the see-saw."
Word History: This word goes back to Latin libra "pound (= 12 ounces in ancient Rome), scales", the origin of the Zodiac sign of the scales, Libra. This word does not seem to be semantically related to either liber "book" (whence library) or liber "free" (whence liberty) despite the phonetic and orthographical similarities—these similarities appear to be pure happenstance.
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