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According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the word lucubrate means “to write or study, especially by night.” It comes from the latin root lucubrare which means to work by lamplight. There’s a pejorative tone to how the word is used in present-day English as the New Oxford notes that lucubrations, usually plural, describe “a piece of writing, typically a pedantic or overelaborate one.”

Maybe it’s because lucubrating is what I do, but I’ve always thought of the word as being closer to its original meaning. Even better, embedded inside, like a filament, is lux, lucis — the latin word for light.

The image of someone contemplating a thing past the time when others might have stopped – often in dim light – is a wonderful thing to encapsulate within a word.

© 2006 – 2024 Raafi Rivero.