Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Tintinnabulation – Wacky Word Wednesday

The fireworks lit up the skies and the bells were struck at midnight. Hi everyone and welcome to 2014! The sound of bells signifies the end of a year and the beginning of another. So on the first edition of this year’s Wacky Word Wednesday, what better way to beef up your vocabulary than to explore the meaning of tintinnabulation!

Today’s definition from Termwiki:

tintinnabulation

[tin-ti-nab-yuh-ley-shuh n]

-noun

A tinkling sound, as of a bell or bells.

New Year's Eve Soiree

Tintinnabulation refers to the sound of a ringing bell specifically after it has been struck. You can use it to describe similar sounds, for example the telephone’s tintinnabulation or the tintinnabulation of your sister’s silver bracelets tinkling together as she walks.

Coined by American poet Edgar Allan Poe, tintinnabulation was borrowed from a number of related terms such as tintinnabulary, meaning bell-ringing or a bell-ringer, and tintinnabularius, meaning a bellman in the statutes of the University of Oxford. Those words come from Latin tinnire, “to ring,” as also does tinnitus, the medical term for a ringing or buzzing in the ears. Poe used Tintinnabulation in the first stanza of his poem The Bells and became moderately popular through the second half of the 19th century. But in modern days, tintinnabulation is hardly used anymore because it’s so much easier to say “ringing.”

Aside from signifying the beginning of a new year, tintinnabulation can also mean a call to wake, to pray, to work and in times of crisis, to come together. It can also mark the start of an important event. For example, as part of the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Big Ben rang 40 times in three minutes, while church bells, doorbells and even bicycle bells across the UK all joined in the performance. The project aimed to set a new world record for the largest number of bells being rung simultaneously.

For your reference, we’ve provided two examples of tintinnabulation used in a sentence:

  • Gee the fans were yelling so loud, I feel a tintinnabulation in my ears (angelfire.com)
  • The tintinnabulation let the townspeople know the wedding was over.

Whether you slept through New Year’s Eve or stayed up to hear the jubilant tintinnabulation, we hope your new year is off to a good start. Enjoy the rest of the week and we’ll see you again soon.

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