What are maculations?

Word count: 195 words

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: maculations.

I don’t reach much poetry but whenever I do, I always regret not reading more. A friend of mine has recently discovered the work of Kay Ryan (pictured above), the 16th US poet laureate.

My friend copies some of Ryan’s poetry every morning and has taken to emailing it to me. What a delight! Here is a portion of Ryan’s poem, “Spring.”

Winter, like a set opinion,

is routed. What gets it out?

The imposition of some external season

or some internal doubt?

I see the yellow maculations spread

across bleak hills of what I said…

Isn’t that lovely? I hadn’t heard the noun maculations before but it means the act of spotting or staining or the spots or marks on a plant or animal, such as the spots on a leopard. The origin of the word is Latin, from maculare, meaning “spotted.”

Interestingly, Middle English also had maculation, meaning “sexual defilement, sinning,” dating back to the late 15th century.

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