What does prodome 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: prodome.

In early November, I was in a panic. I resolve to read 52 books every year — and, in fact, I resolve more than that, because I also promise to report these books to my readers well before Christmas.

As of November 1, I was eight books shy of my goal. Yikes! What was I going to do? Read at least two books each week, I decided. I quickly surveyed my friends for recommendations of particularly short books. The 186-page novel Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner topped one list so I grabbed it from the library.

The story of a young American poet on a prestigious fellowship in Madrid the book is funny in a sad sort of way (I kept wanting to grab the poet by the scruff of his neck and shake him a bit.) The author’s description of the character’s inability to understand Spanish is particularly amusing, given that he typically provides several wildly alternative meanings for most conversations.

The book also gave me my word of the week: prodome. Here’s how the author used it:

I was beginning to find it a little difficult to breathe, the prodrome of panic.

I hadn’t encountered this word before but it means an early symptom or set of symptoms that might indicate the start of a disease. For example, sensitivity to light might be a prodome of a migraine. It comes from the Greek word prodromos.