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Word Curio

February 12, 2020

Word of the Day: Visceral

2 CQ

Word of the Day : May 4, 2017

visceral \VISS-uh-rul\ adjective


1 : felt in or as if in the internal organs of the body : deep

2 : not intellectual : instinctive, unreasoning

3 : dealing with crude or elemental emotions : earthy

4 : of, relating to, or located on or among the internal organs of the body : splanchnic


"My mom is the only one who still writes me letters. And there's something visceral about opening a letter—I see her on the page. I see her in her handwriting." — Steve Carell, quoted in The Boston Globe Magazine, 24 July 2011

"After months of drama, the gravity of the coming week is hard to grasp and, totally untested, feels strangely abstract. What is tangible, however, is the spitting acrimony and visceral anger that still animate both sides of the Brexit debate." — Louis McEvoy, Cherwell (Oxford University), 25 Feb. 2017

Did You Know?

The viscera are the internal organs of the body—especially those located in the large cavity of the trunk (e.g., the heart, liver, and intestines). The word viscera comes from Latin, in which it has essentially the same meaning. Something visceral has to do with the viscera, and in a more figurative sense, something visceral is felt "deep down." Even in the early years of its use, visceral often referred to things emotional rather than physiological. For example, in 1640 an English bishop named Edward Reynolds wrote, "Love is of all other the inmost and most visceral affection." This figurative use is the most common use of visceral, but the word continues to be used in medical contexts as well.

Aired May 4, 2017

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