Today a lucubration (or lucubrations — the word more often appears in the plural) is a derisive reference to a pedantic, over-elaborate or muddled attempt to make a point.
But Coleridge was an unselfdisciplined monologist addict who left a few brilliant poems and poetic fragments behind him, along with a blather of sometimes suggestive but mainly inane lucubration.
A C Grayling, in the Financial Times, 14 Oct. 2006.
Lucubration literally means thought, study or writing that has been undertaken by artificial light. Its origin is Latin lux, light, via the stem of the verb lūcubrāre, to work by lamplight. Imagine a scholar hunched beside a guttering flame, striving late into the night to get his ideas on paper.
The word appeared first in English around the time of Shakespeare at the end of the sixteenth century. People soon started to use it for the result of the activity as well as the activity itself.
Unfortunately, as every student struggling against a deadline to write an essay will know, such burning of the midnight oil is likely to produce work that won’t stand the light of day. Hence its current meaning.
Search World Wide Words
Recently added or updated
Lie Doggo; Fewmet; Dingbat; Kibosh; Caucus; Oryzivorous; Kick the bucket; Satisficer; Beside oneself; Words of the Year 2015; Peradventure; Sconce; Orchidelirium; How’s your father; Goon; Emoji; Thank your mother for the rabbits; Nonplussed; Bob’s-a-dying; Methinks; Bill of goods; Binge-watching; Codswallop; That’s all she wrote; Great Scott.
Support World Wide Words!
Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.
Buy from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you. Select your preferred site and click Go!