Monday, September 11, 2006

Today's Word: lustrum

In ancient Rome, the lustrum was a ritual purification of the entire Roman population after the census every five years.

The English word lustrum (LUSS-trum) refers to that ancient practice, but has also come to mean more generally "a period of five years." So I guess you can say it's been a lustrum since Sept. 11, 2001. (Latin lustrum, by the way, means "purification," and related to such bright, resplendent, and lucid words as luster and illustrate -- literally, "to illuminate.")

2 Comments:

Blogger theorris said...

Isn't there another word that means a sort of metal that is spelled quite like "lustrum?"

4:45 PM  
Blogger Martha said...

Hmmmmm... luster?

http://www.bartleby.com/61/60/L0296000.html

11:17 AM  

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