Gelid, pellucid, lambent and ludic

I’m always interested in new words, especially if they are the sort I can use in my own writing. A few months ago I came across the word ‘gelid’, which means really cold, so cold it’s almost freezing. The sentence I saw was something like ‘the birds flew low through the gelid air‘, and I thought it was such a nice word that I used it in something I was writing. If a word is really unusual, or if there are too many really unusual words in a text, or if the same unusual word is used too often it can become a distraction or an irritation. Ages ago, I came across ‘pellucid’ which means crystal clear, almost transparent; within a few pages the writer used it again, and further on in the book it appeared for the third time. It may have been used again, but I don’t remember, I just found it a distraction. Another writer used ‘lambent’, which refers to a soft light glowing. I thought it a rather nice word, until the writer used it several more times, and I began to wish they hadn’t. Maybe gelid, pellucid and lambent are all adjectives which other people know well, and it wouldn’t strike them as repetitive.

Yester I was writing something and thought I had written that something was lucid. However, on reading it back to myself I noticed I hadn’t written lucid, but ludic – and it hadn’t been picked up by spellcheck; did this mean it wasn’t a typos but an actual word, and if so, what did it mean. Was it something to do with ludicrous?

I looked it up and it was rather delightful, ludic means showing spontaneous and playful. I like ludic people, I hope I’m sometimes ludic (without being ludicrous, but actual I probably am more ludicrous than ludic!) I investigated some more and the definitions became less playful.. I was a teacher for a very long time, but I never came across the term ‘ludic learning’ which means learning involving or through play – ‘playful and game-based learning’ one site told me. Maybe my students were too old for such a thing, although we did at one point have games afternoons where we would play board games such as Scrabble and Cluedo, and card games such as Uno.

I investigated further and came across ludic in relation to drama and the theatre, and then I found that Ludic is a  Finnic language spoken by about three thousand people, and among them there are three dialects, Lake Ludic, River Ludic and Forest Ludic spoken in the Republic of Karelia in Russia, near the northwestern shore of Lake Onega, 

Finally I checked with my favourite word meaning site, and the word or term ludic arrived in the 1940’s through psychiatry. I checked to see if it was related to ludicrous, and the only connection is the two words share the same Latin root, which means sport, and through French also came to mean play and games, and eventually was used in the early part of the eighteenth century in the sense that we mean it now.

PS I can’t see me using ludic in my writing!


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