OED Words of the Day – Actuality, Catachresis, Gloaming

by practicalspactical


1. Capacity of action, activity. Obc.

2. The state of being actual or real; reality, existing objective fact.

3. pl. Actual existing conditions or circumstances.

4. a. Realism in description.


[a. L. catachr{emac}sis, a. Gr.{kappa}{alpha}{tau}{gaacu}{chi}{rho}{eta}{sigma}{iota}{fsigma} misuse (of a word), f. {kappa}{alpha}{tau}{alpha}{chi}{rho}{ghfrown}{sigma}{theta}{alpha}{iota} to misuse, f. {kappa}{alpha}{tau}{gaacu} with sense of perversion + {chi}{rho}{ghfrown}{sigma}{theta}{alpha}{iota} to use.] 

Improper use of words; application of a term to a thing which it does not properly denote; abuse or perversion of a trope or metaphor.

1589 PUTTENHAM Eng. Poesie (Arb.) 190 marg., Catachresis or the Figure of abuse. 1605 J. DOVE Confut. AtheismThe three famous Lakes..which are commonly by the figure catachresis called seas. 1662 FULLER Worthies III.The general Katachresis of Good for Great (a good blow, good piece, etc.). 1810 COLERIDGE Friend (ed. 3) III. 221 The proverb is current by a misuse, or a catachresis at least, of both the words, fortune and fools. 81 185
[repr. OE. glómung str. fem., f. (on the analogy of {aeacu}fningEVENING) glóm twilight, prob. f. the Teut. root *glô- (see GLOW); the etymological sense would thus seem to be the ‘glow’ of sunset or sunrise (cf. GLOOM n.2), whence the passage to the recorded sense is not difficult.
The vowel of the mod. gloaming is anomalous, as OE. glómung should normally become glooming. The explanation probably is that the ó was shortened in the compound {aeacu}fen-glommung (as the spelling seems to show was actually the case), and that from this compound there was evolved a new n. gl{obreve}mung, which by normal phonetic development became ME. gl{ohookmac}ming, mod.E. gloaming. In the literary language the word is a comparatively recent adoption from Scottish writers; but it is found in the dialect of Mid. Yorks.] 

1. a. Evening twilight.

c1000 ÆLFRIC Gloss. in Wr.-Wülcker 117/7 Crepusculum, glomung. c1000 Latin Hymns Ags. Ch. (Surtees 1851) 16 Crepusculum mens nesciat, æfen glommunge mod nyte. c1425 WYNTOUN Cron. IV. vii. 827 Fra the glomyng off the nycht. 1536 BELLENDEN Cron. Scot. (1821) II. 115 He..efter supper, past furth in the gloming. c1610 in Pitcairn Crim. Trials III. 3 This fell furth in the gloming. 1786 BURNS Twa Dogs 232 By this, the sun was out of sight, An’ darker gloaming brought the night. c1800 HOGG Song. ‘Tween the gloaming and the mirk, When the kye comes hame. 1807 BYRON Elegy Newstead Abbey ix, Soon as the gloaming spreads her waving shade. 1830 TENNYSON Leonine Elegiacs, Lowflowing breezes are roaming the broad valley dimmed in the gloaming. 1866 GEO. ELIOT F. Holt 2 The happy outside passenger seated on the box from the dawn to the gloaming [etc.].
fig. 1785 BURNS Ep. to James Smith 79 When ance life’s day draws near the gloamin. 1889 BARRIE Window in Thrums 144 The help she and Hendry needed in the gloaming of their lives.

b. Said occas. of morning twilight.

1873 TRISTRAM Moab iii. 38 The sun had scarcely cast the gloaming of approaching dawn over the eastern peaks. 1894 CROCKETT Raiders 21, I rowed home in the gloaming of the morning.

c. Shade, dusky light.

1832 MOTHERWELL Jeanie Morrison vii, And in the gloamin o’ the wood, The throssil whusslit sweet.

2. attrib. (in some instances passing into adj.), as gloaming-fall, -hour, -sight, -sky, starlight; also gloaming-shot, (a) a shot in the twilight (in quot. fig.); (b) the beginning of twilight; gloaming sight, a front sight specially adapted for evening shooting.

1788 PICKEN Poems 176 Gin gloamin hours reek’t Eben’s haun. 1793 BURNS Let. to G. Thomson Aug., I once more roved out yesterday for a gloamin-shot at the muses. 1795 {emem} ‘Had I the wyte’ 29 At gloamin-shot it was, I wot, I lighted on the Monday. a1810 TANNAHILL ‘The Midges dances aboon the burn’ Poems (1846) 114 Beneath the golden gloaming sky, The mavis mends her lay. 1818 SCOTT Rob Roy xxi, He has a gloaming sight o’ what’s reasonable..a glisk and nae mair. 1821 Blackw. Mag. VIII. 401 A cannie hour at gloaming-fa’ under the hazel bower birks. 1843 LYTTON Last Bar. IV. v, Even I grow hungered in these cool gloaming hours. 1856 MRS. STOWE Dred II. xii. 125 The gloaming starlight was just sufficient to show him that all was desolate. 1895 Army & Navy Co-op. Soc. Price List 15 Sept. 925/1 New gloaming sight for guns and rifles. 1907 Yesterday’s Shopping (1969) 639 Gloaming sights for rifles… Specially adapted for evening sport.