Printable Version
Pronunciation: lum Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive (no direct object)

Meaning: To sit, lie or stand in the background, immense and threatening.

Notes: Today's ostensibly simple word is one of those terms we often use without completely understanding its meaning. When we put this Good Word in play, we will see that whatever looms does not move or moves very slowly; it is by definition large or very important, and threatening. Loom is an odd word with a strange meaning and, unsurprisingly, no family to speak of: looming serves as an adjective and noun.

In Play: Things that loom are highly important and carry with them the potential for great damage: "The enormous darkening thunderhead looming over the horizon did not bode well for the Applemans' picnic." But things that loom need not be visible: "With exams looming before him, Elmer was very foolish to spend the weekend at the shore with Trivet."

Word History: The original thinking on the origin of today's Good Word was that it goes back to Middle English lumen "to shine", from Old French lumer "to shine". Things that shine tend to stand out, but things that loom are more often dark and threatening. The Oxford English Dictionary, however, prefers to connect it with verbs of motion, since in the early 17th century it referred to the slow, up and down motion of a ship at sea or the waves beneath it. The key to the true origin, however, continues to loom somewhere out there in the dark, yet to be discovered. (We are glad Lew Jury didn't leave us in the dark about this Good Word but rather chose to enlighten us with it.)

Dr. Goodword,

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