What does the word “ogival” 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: ogival…

It took me many weeks to finish the novel Safekeeping by Jessamyn Hope. Although others — including the Boston Globe — described it as “luminous, irreverent, and ambitious,” I found it a bit plodding.

The story of a young Jewish man — a drug addict from New York City — the book describes his attempts to  redress a past crime, involving a medieval sapphire brooch.

One of the aspects of the book I most appreciated was that it gave me my word of the week, ogival. Here’s how the author used it:

Isaac followed the map in the brochure through an ogival doorway and down a long ambulatory lined with iron-latticed windows.

My brother-in-law, an architect, will be ashamed to learn I didn’t know the meaning of this word! It refers to a pointed arch, as pictured above. The word is French in origin, from the word ogive meaning the “diagonal rib of a vault.” An earlier word,  augive, is of unknown origin. Similar words exist in Italian, ogivale, and Romanian, ogival.

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