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Mar 16, 2012
This week's theme
18-letter words to mark Wordsmith.org's octodecennial

This week's words
preantepenultimate
gedankenexperiment
reductio ad absurdum
plurisignification
princesse lointaine

princesse lointaine
Jaufré Rudel dying in the arms of his love, Countess of Tripoli
From a 13th-century Italian manuscript

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

princesse lointaine

PRONUNCIATION:
(PRIN-ses/sis LWAN*-tayn)
*this syllable is nasal

MEANING:
noun: An ideal but unattainable woman.

ETYMOLOGY:
From French princesse lointaine (distant princess). It was the title of the 1895 play La Princesse Lointaine by Edmond Rostand, the man who also wrote Cyrano de Bergerac. The play is based on the story of the troubadour Jaufré Rudel who falls in love with the Countess of Tripoli without even having seen her. Earliest documented use: 1921.

USAGE:
"The form Umberto Eco tests most severely here is the Romance, with a princesse lointaine whom Roberto loves and can never attain."
Marina Warner; Inside the Big Mind; Los Angeles Times; Dec 17, 1995.

"Jude Law is a man pursuing a dream of love, using the ideal of a Princesse Lointaine captured on a tintype portrait to sustain him on his journey."
Philippa Hawker; Cold Mountain; The Age (Melbourne, Australia); Jan 1, 2004.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
It is not so much our friends' help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us. -Epicurus, philosopher (c. 341-270 BCE)

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