Word of the Day Archive
Saturday February 7, 2004
miasma \my-AZ-muh; mee-\ , noun:
1. A vaporous exhalation (as of marshes or putrid matter) formerly thought to cause disease; broadly, a thick vaporous atmosphere or emanation.
2. A harmful or corrupting atmosphere or influence; also, an atmosphere that obscures; a fog.
The critics, he says, "will sit in their large automobiles, spewing a miasma of toxic gas into the atmosphere, and they will thank you for not smoking a cigarette."
-- Charles E. Little, "No One Communes Anymore", New York Times, October 17, 1993
To destroy such prejudices, which many a time rise and spread themselves like a miasma, is an imperative duty of theory, for the misbegotten offspring of human reason can also be in turn destroyed by pure reason.
-- Carl von Clausewitz, On War (translated by Colonel James John Graham)
He spends whatever money he has on hash and eventually heroin . . . and proceeds to sink into a miasma of anger and alienation.
-- Jhumpa Lahiri, "Money Talks in Pakistan", New York Times, March 12, 2000
Girls of my generation stumbled through much of our early adolescence in a dense miasma of longing.
-- Ellen Pall, "She had a Crush on Them", New York Times, July 29, 1990
Miasma comes from Greek miasma, "pollution," from miainein, "to pollute."