Word of the Day

Thursday, December 02, 2004


\em-py-REE-uhn; -PEER-ee-\ , noun;
The highest heaven, in ancient belief usually thought to be a realm of pure fire or light.
Heaven; paradise.
The heavens; the sky.
Of or pertaining to the empyrean of ancient belief.
She might have been an angel arguing a point in the empyrean if she hadn't been, so completely, a woman.
-- Edith Wharton, "The Long Run", The Atlantic, Feburary 1912
In the poem -- one he had the good sense finally to abandon -- he pictured himself as a blind moth raised among butterflies, which for a brief moment had found itself rising upward into the empyrean to behold "Great horizons and systems and shores all along," only to find its wings crumpling and itself falling -- like Icarus -- back to earth.
-- Paul Mariani, The Broken Tower: A Life of Hart Crane
In my experience, the excitement generated by a truly fresh and original piece of writing is the rocket fuel that lifts Grub Street's rackety skylab -- with its grizzled crew of editors, publishers, agents, booksellers, publicists -- into orbit in the empyrean.
-- Robert McCrum, "Young blood", The Observer, August 26, 2001
Empyrean comes from Medieval Latin empyreum, ultimately from Greek empurios, from en-, "in" + pyr, "fire."
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