Printable Version
Pronunciation: sahm-næm-byê-layt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: To walk in your sleep, to sleepwalk.

Notes: Today's word is a good Latin borrowing with a huge number of accompanying derivations. The action nouns are somnambulation, somnambulance, and somnambulism. The primary adjectives are somnambulant and somnambulary. The actor nouns are somnambulator and somnambulist. Enjoy!

In Play: Z-z-z-z-zToday's Good Word is the technical (medical) term for sleepwalking: "Dustin Moppet's wife is lucky: he periodically somnambulates and tidies up the house." This means that any time you need to express "sleepwalking" and impress your friends with your technical vocabulary, today's Good Word is the word to use: "I know the way to Farquhar's house like the back of my hand; I could somnambulate there and back."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a Latin compound based on somnus "sleep" + ambulatus "walked", the past participle of ambulare "to walk". Greek hypnos "sleep", the origin of English hypnotism, shares the same source with somnos, as does Russian son "dream". Ambulare comes from the Proto-Indo-European ambhi- "both sides, around" and was apparently a reference to using both legs. This root turns up in Greek amphi "around", as in amphitheater (or British amphitheatre). The adjective derived from ambulare, ambulant, came to mean "mobile" in French, often used in the phrase hôpital ambulant "mobile hospital". English borrowed it as ambulance. (Colin Burt is so good at finding words like the one he suggested for today, I'm sure he could find them while somnambulating.)

Dr. Goodword,

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