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Today's Word



Oct 22, 2018
This week’s theme
Words related to the eye

This week’s words
trompe l'oeil

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with Anu Garg

Eyes are sensory organs. They sense what’s going on in the world around us, but they also tell others how we feel. Eyes are verbs that conjugate the emotions.

By the start of middle school I had to squint to read what was on the blackboard. My parents took me to an ophthalmologist who diagnosed me with shortsightedness.

When I returned to school, I soon became very familiar with the epithet “four-eyes”. These two extra “eyes” were precious -- if I had to choose, I’d protect them before protecting any other possession.

Having a pair of glasses makes you acutely aware of the importance of the sense of vision and a fellow feeling for those who lack it.

When I was in high school I learned that some organization was signing people up to pledge to donate their eyes after death. I signed up. I had most people in my extended family sign up too, though one thought it was blasphemous.

After graduate school, when I got a well-paying job, I had laser surgery done to correct my vision. I do not need glasses any more, though I don’t know if I can claim to be farsighted or a visionary now.

While applying for a driver’s license, I checked the box on the application form to pledge all organs. What is blasphemous is letting our organs rot or burn after our death rather than letting them help someone live or live better. Why not become an organ donor?

We have featured words derived from hands and other body parts in the past. This week we’ll focus on words that have their origins in the eye.

prosopopeia or prosopopoeia


1. A figure of speech in which an imaginary or absent person is represented as speaking or acting.
2. A figure of speech in which an inanimate object or something abstract is represented as possessing human form: personification.

From Latin prosopopoeia, from Greek prosopopoiia (personification), from prosopon (face, mask), from pros- (facing) + ops (eye) + poiein (to make). Earliest documented use: 1550.

“One of the key terms in de Man’s critical vocabulary was prosopopeia, the voice that addresses us in a literary work from beyond the grave.”
James Atlas; The Case of Paul de Man; The New York Times; Aug 28, 1988.

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

All one's life as a young woman one is on show, a focus of attention, people notice you. You set yourself up to be noticed and admired. And then, not expecting it, you become middle-aged and anonymous. No one notices you. You achieve a wonderful freedom. It's a positive thing. You can move about unnoticed and invisible. -Doris Lessing, novelist, poet, playwright, Nobel laureate (22 Oct 1919-2013)

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