April 24, 2014
- languor (noun)
- What does it mean?
- 1 : weakness or weariness of body or mind2 : a state of dreamy idleness
- How do you use it?
- "There you stand, lost in the infinite series of the sea, with nothing ruffled but the waves. The tranced ship indolently rolls; the drowsy trade winds blow; everything resolves you into languor." (Herman Melville, _Moby Dick_)
- Are you a word wiz?
In the quotation from _Moby Dick_, the narrator, Ishmael, is describing how it is to be up in the crow's nest on a big ship at sea. Which of the following words could Ishmael have used in place of "languor" to have basically the same meaning?Look alive, matey, and we'll tell you that the answer is A, "lassitude." The Word Central dictionary defines "lassitude" as "a condition of weariness, fatigue" and "a state of dreamy idleness, languor." It's this second sense of "lassitude" that Ishmael is evoking in his description above. Both "languor" and "lassitude" are nouns, but "languor" has a closely related adjective "languid," which means "weak from or as if from exhaustion," "lacking spirit, listless," and "lacking force or quickness of movement, slow."