What does ‘daedal’ mean?

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Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: daedal….

You might know Daedalus as the prisoner who fashioned wings of feathers and wax to escape from the island of Crete with his son Icarus. (He’s shown, above, in a detail of a 1645 painting by Charles Le Brun.)

But as the architect and sculptor who is said to have designed a labyrinth for King Minos of Crete, Daedalus earned his name for the skillfullness of his work. The Greek word daidalos comes from Latin, daedalus, meaning “skillfully wrought.”

I was unaware of this history when I read the interesting new novel The Incendiaries by R.O, Kwon. A story of misfit scholarship boy and his glamorous but grieving girlfriend, the book uses the adjective, daedal. Here’s how Kwon employed the word:

It could be a sign: a daedal thread, the implied promise of return.

Her reference to a thread likely refers to elaborate tapestries, which would have required significant skill to execute.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Oct. 31/18.

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