Word of The Day for Saturday, November 20, 2010


op•us•cule (oh-PUHS-kyool)  n

1. a small or minor work
2. a literary or musical work of small size

opuscular adjective

1650–60;  < F < L opusculum,  equiv. to opus  work + -culum -cule

Related Words: opus, opera

Sentence Examples:
• In 1822 he published a Plan of the Scientific Works necessary to Reorganise Society. In this opuscule he points out that modern society is passing through a great crisis, due to the conflict of two opposing movements,—the first, a disorganising movement owing to the break-up of old institutions and beliefs; the second, a movement towards a definite social state, in which all means of human prosperity will receive their most complete development and most direct application.

• It has been customary, of late years, for the purveyors of amusing literature—the popular authors of the day—to put forth certain opuscules, denominated 'Christmas Books,' with the ostensible intention of swelling the tide of exhilaration, or other expansive emotions, incident upon the exodus of the old and the inauguration of the new year. -The Christmas Books, William Makepeace Thackeray

• Yet neither he nor any one else on his side has ever effectively shaken the solid argument which Diderot fancifully illustrated in the following passage from his reply to Voltaire's letter of thanks for the opuscule: "This marvellous order and these wondrous adaptations, what am I to think of them? -Diderot, John Morley

The Storyline
And so on it went with a series of oft-reiterated lines and anecdotes that Anna knew well enough to be able to compose an opuscule from them.

Why This Word:
I could write a minor opus on this word. There's a formality in the feel of opuscule that conjures up a short formal treatise. And yet ours is the age of the opuscule, short works for the short-attention-span generation. I'd say more perhaps, but I've already exceeded 140 characters and I've probably lost some peoples' attention.

Sources: Dictionary.com

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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