What's in a Word | All Blogs


A flame

By Debra Dobbins

It was great to see so many familiar faces last night at the Tad Benoit riverfront concert. Despite a newly mandated $2 fee for each ticket (necessitating a trip to City Market), the event drew a throng of ardent concert-goers. The longtime friend with me last night, whose judgment I trust, estimated the crowd at 800. Let's just say the hill was alive with the sound of music-lovers.

“Ardent” in the paragraph above is used in its second definition found in Webster's: “intensely enthusiastic or devoted.” Webster's first definition is “warm or intense in feeling,” and its third definition is “glowing; radiant.” The dictionary's final definition is “burning; aflame.”

The word is the adjective form of “ardor,” which, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, came into English in the early 15th century “from Old French ordure 'heat, glow, passion.'” That French word, according to the same dictionary, went back to Latin ardorem. That word meant “a flame, fire, burning, heat.”

While ardent riverfront fans could take a short walk to booths selling water, beer and wine with which to better soak up the ambience of the evening, they couldn't buy ardent spirits such as vodka or rum (flammable because of their high alcoholic content). It's doubtful that anybody minded, especially since last night's full moon, at times radiant and at times softly glowing behind clouds, was intoxicating enough.

Illustration special to the Sentinel

Artist's representation of distillation apparatus for aqua vitae, from Liber de arte Distillandi, by Hieronymus Brunschwig, 1512.
Photo of artwork and caption courtesy of Wikipedia

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