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Today's Word



Jul 15, 2019
This week’s theme
Words originating in the moon

This week’s words
blue moon

The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh
The Starry Night is definitely a better title than The Moony Night. At any rate, this work of art is superlunary.
Art: Vincent van Gogh

Previous week’s theme
Words that aren’t what they appear to be
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with Anu Garg

The moon gets no respect. Our language shows how badly we treat our only natural satellite (from Latin, literally, member of staff, bodyguard, attendant, or follower).

We have coined words after the moon, such as lunacy (insanity), moonshine (illicit liquor; nonsense), and mooncalf (simpleton). Let’s not even talk about the verb “to moon”. What did the moon do to us anyway? Is this the way to repay it for dutifully following us day after day, month after month, for oh, four billion years? Best not to slander the moon as it’s already going away from us. It’s moving away only 1.5 inches a year right now, so let’s not further antagonize it.

All is not lost though. There are a handful of words in which we don’t malign our closest celestial ally. A Monday is, literally speaking, a moon-day. A month is, literally, the time it takes for the moon to make a trip around us.

This week marks 50 years since we went to the moon and said hello in person when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface on July 21, 1969. To mark the occasion, this week we’ll see words that have their origin in the moon.



1. Situated beyond the moon.
2. Celestial; exalted.

From Latin superlunaris, from super- (above) + luna (moon). Earliest documented use: 1614. The opposite is sublunary.

“But it is Finck’s memoir, ‘Passing for Human’, that is putting her in the superlunary realm of graphic novelists.”
Leslie Newell Peacock; Liana Finck; Arkansas Times (Little Rock); Apr 1, 2019.

See more usage examples of superlunary in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. -Iris Murdoch, writer (15 Jul 1919-1999)

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