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Word of the Day - for Toastmasters everywhere
Wednesday 28th February 2024
Archive | Previous word | Today's word |

numinous (adjective) NYOO-min-us

Holy, supernatural, mysteriously associated with deity, arousing or suffused with deeply religious emotions.

This is true, but as the reader will discover in my second chapter, the almost magical power many continue to associate with books today is not unrelated to ancient Israel’s conception of the numinous effects of writing.

William M. Schniedewind, How the Bible Became a Book: The Textualization of Ancient Israel. Amazon

The fact that the reader is wearing a hat is of distinct resonance. Ethnographers have yet to tell us what general meanings apply to the distinctions between those religious and ritual practices which demand that the participant be covered, and those in which he is bare-headed. In both the Hebraic and the Graeco-Roman traditions, the worshipper, the consultant of the oracle, the initiate when he approaches the sacred text or augury, is covered. So is Chardin's reader, as if to make evident the numinous character of his access to, of his encounter with, the book.

George Steiner, No Passion Spent - Essays 1978-1995 . Amazon

The numinous quality of Martin's paintings - the way light seems to be stored up inside them - has inevitably evoked a spiritual experience.

Gordon Burn, The Guardian, 2 June 2007. Guardian

There is an obvious difference, as de Botton describes, between the harsh strip lighting and angst-ridden atmosphere of a McDonald's on London's Victoria Street, which he describes with eloquent disgust, and the wonderfully empty, dark, numinous spaces of Westminster cathedral on the other side of the road.

Charles Saumarez Smith, The Observer, 7 May 2006, The Observer
reviewing Alain de Botton's The Architecture of Happiness. Amazon

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