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Mar 2, 2021
This week’s theme
Words coined after Gulliver’s Travels

This week’s words
lilliput
Laputan
struldbrug
yahoo
Brobdingnag

laputan
From Gullivers Reisen, 1910
Artist unknown

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Laputan

PRONUNCIATION:
(luh-PYOOT-n)

MEANING:
adjective: Absurdly fanciful or impractical.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Laputa, a floating island in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726). Earliest documented use: 1866.

NOTES:
In the book, a resident of the floating island is called a Laputian; however, in the English language we use the word Laputan. Laputians/Laputans are described as people who are scientists and philosophers, lost in the arts of music, mathematics, technology, and astronomy. Practical matters do not concern them much. “Their houses are very ill built, the walls bevil [sloping], without one right angle in any apartment.”

That said, in that work of fiction, Laputans/Laputians discover two moons of the planet Mars, more than 150 years before the actual discovery by the real-life astronomer Asaph Hall. In Swift’s honor, Mars’s moon Deimos has a crater named Swift and the moon Phobos has geographical features named after places in Gulliver’s Travels: Laputa Regio and Lagado Planitia.

Here’s to Laputans and their “impractical” pursuits!

USAGE:
“As a mathematician, Prof. Nowak’s particular Laputan conceit is that human nature (before it is upgraded) is to be discovered in increasingly sophisticated computer programs rather than by examining the real thing.”
Peter Foster; Science Good, Markets Bad; National Post (Don Mills, Canada); May 7, 2011.

See more usage examples of Laputan in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Religious freedom should work two ways: we should be free to practice the religion of our choice, but we must also be free from having someone else's religion practiced on us. -John Irving, novelist (b. 2 Mar 1942)

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