Printable Version
Pronunciation: neb-yu-lê Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A cloud of interstellar gas or dust. 2. (Astronomy) A galaxy other than our Milky Way. 3.

Notes: This word has two adjectives, nebular and nebulous, both of which can mean "related to nebulas" or simply "cloudy, hazy, diffuse" for reasons that will emerge in the Word History. The verb, nebulize, means "to atomize, to convert liquid to a mist or spray". The plural of this word is usually nebulae, but now nebulas is acceptable.

In Play: Nebulae are the remains of exploded stars which serve as the substance of new ones: "Nebulae are swirling clouds of gas and dust from which newly hatched stars begin to shine." Nebulae tend to be large amoebic colorful masses: "Overhead, animated patterns shifted into colorful celestial images of galaxies and nebulae in an astronomical psychedelic light show."

Word History: Today's Good Word is an exact copy of Latin nebula "cloud", inherited from PIE nebh- "cloud". We have much evidence of nebh- in many modern western Indo-European languages, like Russian and Serbian nebo "sky", Polish niebo "sky", Dutch nevel and German Nebel "mist, fog", Irish neamh "sky, heaven", Welsh nef "heaven", and Greek nephos "cloud", underlying nephology "study of clouds". Do not confuse this word with nephrology "the study of kidneys". (Now a bow to our old friend Susan Maynard for suggesting yet another engaging Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!