Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nocturne for N and a lily

What's in a letter? N, for instance? Opening the Merriam-Webster at random, I found these suggestions:

"Nimbus," usually associated with a certain type of cloud. But it also refers to a luminous vapor around a god or goddess, or an aura of romance around a person who has madly fallen in love. And remember those statues and paintings of the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and the Saints? Usually there’s a circle around their heads with rays fanning out—that’s also called a nimbus.

We’ve all heard of the Ninja Turtles; the word "ninja" is from Japanese and means "to move stealthily," refers to a person trained to be a spy or an assassin.

"Nix" comes from German nichts and means "nothing." My grandfather was in the U.S. infantry during WWI and after the armistice was signed, his regiment was sent into Germany. Children would often mob the troops, begging for food, candy, and gum. He said they would tell them "nix gum, nix gum."

"Nitid;" not a word I’m familiar with (and neither is the MS Word spellchecker). It’s from 1619 and means "bright, lustrous".

Then there’s "nuance," which comes from French, meaning "to make shakes of color," and refers to subtle variations or delicate shadings of colors, words, feelings.

And now, being after midnight, it’s time to move into nocturnal activities, such as sleep.

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