word of the day: lacuna

December 25, 2006

although i’ve been scooped by dictionary.com, which made lacuna their word of the day on Feb. 19, 2001, I’ve decided to go ahead and name lacuna (pl. lacunae) today’s word. lacuna comes from the latin “lacuna” (wunderbar) meaning, a hole or a gap, and for a time was anglicized as “lacune,” however that form is now very rare (and thus, i encourage everyone to use it).

the english definition of lacuna also means a hole or gap. According to the OED, lacuna is “1. In a manuscript, an inscription, the text of an author: A hiatus, blank, missing portion. ” this definition is used frequently in literary criticism, although there it occasional gains the added nuance of something intentionally left out by the author. I’ve personally found lacuna to be one of those words that once you know you find it impossible to remember how you wrote papers without it. There’s also a scientific definition for “lacuna” which the OED has as the second definition.

The AHD gives the definition as “An empty space or a missing part; a gap” and though they give a literary quote thereafter, their definition is exceedingly broad and leaves way for misuse. For example “mind the lacuna between the rails.”

i’ll leave it up to you to infer why this is the word of the day.

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