Word of the Day Archive
Friday August 11, 2000
lucubration \loo-kyoo-BRAY-shun; loo-kuh-\
1. The act of studying by candlelight; nocturnal study; meditation.
2. That which is composed by night; that which is produced by meditation in retirement; hence (loosely) any literary composition.
A point of information for those with time on their hands: if you were to read 135 books a day, every day, for a year, you wouldn't finish all the books published annually in the United States. Now add to this figure, which is upward of 50,000, the 100 or so literary magazines; the scholarly, political and scientific journals (there are 142 devoted to sociology alone), as well as the glossy magazines, of which bigger and shinier versions are now spawning, and you'll appreciate the amount of lucubration that finds its way into print.
-- Arthur Krystal, "On Writing: Let There Be Less", New York Times, March 26, 1989
One of his characters is given to lucubration. "Things die on us," he reflects as he lies in bed, "we die on each other, we die of ourselves."
-- "Books of The Times", New York Times, February 7, 1981
Naturally, these fictions ran the risk of tumbling down the formalist hill and ending up at the bottom without readers -- except the heroic students of Roland Barthes or Umberto Eco, professors whose lucubrations were much more interesting than the books about which they theorized.
-- Mario Vargas Llosa, "Thugs Who Know Their Greek", New York Times, September 7, 1986
Lucubration comes from Latin lucubratus, past participle of lucubrare, "to work by night, composed at night (as by candlelight)," ultimately connected with lux, "light." Hence it is related to lucent, "shining, bright," and lucid, "clear." The verb form is lucubrate.