Word of the Day

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


\uh-FLAY-tuhs\ , noun;
A divine imparting of knowledge; inspiration.
Whatever happened to passion and vision and the divine afflatus in poetry?
-- Clive Hicks, "From 'Green Man' (Ronsdale)", Toronto Star, November 21, 1999
Aristophanes must have eclipsed them . . . by the exhibition of some diviner faculty, some higher spiritual afflatus.
-- John Addington Symonds, Studies of the Greek Poets
The miraculous spring that nourished Homer's afflatus seems out of reach of today's writers, whose desperate yearning for inspiration only indicates the coming of an age of "exhaustion.
-- Benzi Zhang, "Paradox of origin(ality)", Studies in Short Fiction, March 22, 1995
Afflatus is from Latin afflatus, past participle of afflare, "to blow at or breathe on," from ad-, "at" + flare, "to puff, to blow." Other words with the same root include deflate (de-, "out of" + flare); inflate (in-, "into" + flare); soufflé, the "puffed up" dish (from French souffler, "to puff," from Latin sufflare, "to blow from below," hence "to blow up, to puff up," from sub-, "below" + flare); and flatulent.
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