Podcast somniloquy

Printable Version
Pronunciation: sahm-ni-lê-kwi Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Talking in your sleep, sleep-talking. 2. What you say when you talk in your sleep.

Notes: This half-amusing Good Word is a member of a large and warm family, despite the fact that my spell-checker is lighting up this paragraph like a Christmas tree with red lines as I write it. A person who engages in somniloquy is a somniloquist who becomes somniloquent when sleeping. When somniloquists somniloquize, they express themselves in somniloquies in the second meaning of today's word. Although somniloquies usually are soliloquies, be careful not to confuse the two.

In Play: Many people utter words and phrases related to the dreams they have as they sleep. However, a somniloquy can often be even more important than what we say when we are awake. A wife might ask a husband in the morning, "So, who is this 'Eleanor' you mentioned several times in your somniloquy last night?" Don't overlook the other members of this family of words. The same wife might comment, "I'm sleeping much better now that you have become less somniloquent at night."

Word History: Today's Good Word is made from the root of Latin somnus "sleep" + the verb loqui "to speak". Somnus is also responsible for the English words somnambulant "sleep-walking, sleep-walker" and somnolent, the grown-up word for "sleepy". The same Proto-Indo-European root that produced somnus turned up in Greek as hypnos "sleep", which we see at the root of our word hypnotism. In Russian it became son "sleep, dream". The root of the Latin verb loqui "to talk or speak" is also present in English loquacious "talkative" and eloquent. (Margie Sved was not just talking in her sleep when she nominated this fascinating noun as a Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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