• sublunary •
sêb-lun-êr-i • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Beneath the moon, between earth and the moon. 2. Of this world as opposed to heavenly or celestial, earthly. 3. Inferior, commonplace, subordinate. Its antonym is superlunary.
Notes: Should you ever not have room for this word, you may safely omit the final Y and write sublunar. The meanings remain the same. The quality of being sublunary is sublunariness and an earthling may be called a sublunarian. Sublunarian may also be used as an adjective meaning "sublunary".
In Play: This word usually appears in contexts that compare it with the earthly or ordinary: "Evan Essents lives in a fairyland of alchemy, horoscopes, spells, and interplanetary visitors—far removed from the sublunary lives of most folks." It might, though, still appear in religious contexts like this: "Evan's friend Buzzy has no interest in religion because his sublunary problems are more than he can resolve."
Word History: Today's Good Word is a modification of Late Latin sublunaris, made up of sub "under, beneath" + Latin luna "moon" + -aris, an adjective suffix. Luna is a drastic reduction of Proto-Indo-European leuksna- "moon", also source of lustrum "purification (rite)", which French reduced to lustre "gloss", which English captured. The British retained the original spelling, but the Americans changed the spelling to luster. Leuksna is a suffixed form of leuk-/louk- "light, brightness", source also of English light, German Licht "light", Russian and Slovak luč "ray", Latin lux [luc-s] "light", and Greek leukos "clear, white". The name Lucifer came from a compound comprising luc- "light" + fer-"to bear, carry", in other words, "light-carrier". (Now a bow to our old friend from the Agora, George Kovac, who discovered today's fascinating Good Word and was kind enough to share it with us.)
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