What does ‘effulgent’ mean?

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

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: effulgent…

I can no longer remember how I discovered the heartbreaking New York Magazine story “The Day I started Lying to Ruth,” written by cancer doctor Peter Bach. But the lede was gripping:

The streetlights in Buenos Aires are considerably dimmer than they are in New York, one of the many things I learned during my family’s six-month stay in Argentina. The front windshield of the rental car, aged and covered in the city’s grime, further obscured what little light came through. When we stopped at the first red light after leaving the hospital, I broke two of my most important marital promises. I started acting like my wife’s doctor, and I lied to her. 

How could you stop reading after that?

In thoughtful, beautifully written words, the doctor describes his own wife’s struggle with breast cancer and the weight of his grief in the face of her death. Amazingly enough, the piece also gave me my word of the week. Here is how the author used it:

In the seat next to me, in a matching chair, was the woman I loved, my effulgent bride. 

I was certain I’d encountered the adjective before but couldn’t remember it’s meaning. Turns out it means radiant.  The etymology of the word is Latin —  effulgentem — meaning “to shine out, gleam forth,” from ex meaning “out” + fulgere meaning “to shine.”

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