As September passes by, the fall semester for scholars of all ages is just beginning to ramp up. Some subjects and teachers will excite students, initiating engaging classroom discussions and assigning challenging yet gratifying homework. Unfortunately, other classes and projects will have quite the opposite effect – they’ll put students straight to sleep. Today’s Wacky Word Wednesday, is all about those things and moments in life that make our eyelids heavy and our heads start to nod, no matter how hard we try to fight the feeling.
Tending to induce drowsiness or sleep; tediously boring or monotonous.
There are times in life when the far more common adjectives “dull” or “boring” just won’t do it, events so bland their recordings are used as insomnia remedies. Thankfully, for such occasions, we have today’s wacky word – soporific. From sopor, the Latin for deep sleep, soporific came to English from the French soporifique sometime in the 17th century, and was originally used as noun. At first, it referred only to things – anesthetic, sleeping pills – things that literally put people to sleep, but it was almost immediately adapted as an adjective to describe people, events, and places. The word is often used negatively to describe a meeting you wish you could sleep through, however a speaker being soporific isn’t always a bad thing.
Consider this portion of William Somerville’s 1727 poem, “The Fortune Hunter:”
“Hibernian matrons thus of old,
Their soporific stories told;
To sleep in vain the patient strove,
Perplex’d in business, cross’d in love;
Till soothing tales becalmed his breast,
And lulled his troubled soul to rest.”
Here, “soporific stories” lull the troubled soul, but there are plenty of other positive sleep-inducers: a large, heavy meal, several bottles of wine, or a roaring fire, to name a few.
As usual, here are a few example sentences putting our wacky word into action:
l “He’s a man so soporific one shouldn’t operate heavy machinery in his presence.” (The West Wing)
l “The best thing I can say about the first half of the performance is that I don’t often get to use the word ‘soporific’ in casual conversation.” (The Baltimore Fiddle Fair)
We at Simply CSOFT hope that you have only the most enjoyably soporific moments and wish all students out there the power to keep their eyes open throughout the most soporifically intense lectures. Join us next week for another exciting edition of Wacky Word Wednesday!
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