Word of the Week: Oneiric

I am (still) reading Roberto Bolano’s 2666and during my sofa session Friday afternoon, came across this sentence on page 323:

“The oneiric wind whipped grains of sand that stuck to their faces.”

The word “oneiric” (oh-ny-rick) was a new one for me. The “Look Up” feature on my nook told me it is an adjective that means “of or relating to dreams; dreamy.” Merriam-Webster confirmed the definition, and informed me that the word rests in the bottom 50% of word popularity (what a shame). What a whimsical word to add to my vocabulary.

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The oneiric landscape and atmosphere of this beach along the shores of the Potomac River, near its blending with the Chesapeake Bay, makes it one of my favorite places. I snapped this photograph on my smart phone Saturday, December 17, 2016, after spending an hour at the water’s edge with my husband and dogs, hunting for sea glass and watching the sun set.

In addition to its inherent whimsy, the word applies to my own writing experience: The oneiric state I find myself in just before sleeping or just before waking seems to generate my best writing ideas. The only problem? Whereas I often remember my dreams, I only rarely remember the words I wrote during the course of them.

Other contexts in which I can imagine this word:

She waited impatiently for the oneiric effects of the medication to wear off.

He thought about the oneiric nature of his earliest memories, which might be memories, but might just as likely be imaginings based on stories he’d heard from his parents and grandparents and siblings hundreds of times, his imagination indistinguishable from reality.

The sight of the couple walking arm-in-arm down the cobblestone street summoned an oneiric sense of a life he felt he had never lived, though the photographs he had not yet removed from his walls told him otherwise.

She stepped off the plane and into the oneiric landscape of paradise.

“Oneiric” is also the perfect word to describe Lana Del Ray’s “Young and Beautiful,” as featured on the soundtrack for The Great Gatsby film released in 2013, as well as for the music that corresponds to the green light.

Lastly, I am quite sure that the male protagonist of my current writing project, a novel in its seventh draft titled Goodbye For Now, feels an oneiric sensation at waking up in a stranger’s body, and viewing his life as an outsider.

Word of the Week: Apricate

The word “apricate” seems like an apt one for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, when many of us will celebrate our nation’s independence by, among other festivities, heading to the beach (at least in my neck of the woods). In fact, I seized an opportunity to apricate yesterday–I do it all summer long, actually–and didn’t even know that’s what I was doing. You probably do, too. I came across the word today while perusing Dictionary.com, where I happened across a slideshow called “Rise and Shine: 9 Sunny Words.” “Apricate” appeared on the very first slide, and is brand new to me.

It’s a verb meaning “to bask in the sun,” or “to tan.” Many people I know refer to this activity as “laying out.”

When I first saw the word, I was reminded of the word “apricot,” which Dictionary.com was quick to point out actually bears no etymological relation to “apricate.” In my experience, however, they are related: I ate an apricot while I apricated (though I honestly don’t know if the past tense of “apricate” is “apricated”) yesterday afternoon.

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Above: One of my favorite places to apricate is Pony Pasture on the James River. Below left: One my dogs apricates on our back deck. Below right: The view I have from the lounge chair (pictured left) when I apricate on my back deck.

Now, go forth! You have been linguistically empowered!

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