Word of the Day Archive
Friday August 23, 2002
numinous \NOO-min-us; NYOO-\
1. Of or pertaining to a numen; supernatural.
2. Filled with or characterized by a sense of a supernatural presence.
3. Inspiring awe and reverence; spiritual.
Smoking is a ritual, and it has all the numinous force of a ritual.
-- Thomas W. Laqueur, The New Republic, September 18, 1995
All Quests are concerned with some numinous Object, the Waters of Life, the Grail, buried treasure etc.
-- W. H. Auden, "Secular Hobbitism" review of The Fellowship of the Ring, by J. R. R. Tolkien, New York Times
Our culture is not much concerned with the numinous, but in language we preserve many of the marks of a culture that is.
-- Richard Mitchell, Less Than Words Can Say
My sense of the numinous is generally keenest upstate, in the fields and forest that surround my old schoolhouse.
-- Winifred Gallagher, Working on God
Numinous is from Latin numen: literally a "nod of the head," as in giving a command, hence "divine power."