Monday, January 19, 2015

Amazing Words: Tintinnabulation

Each week, I’m going to present an amazing word. A word that has a double meaning either directly or perhaps through origin, where is has evolved into a new meaning, or carries a wonderful Onomatopoeic effect.

This week my amazing word is:


Onomatopoeia is the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named. 

In this case, tintinnabulation is the jingling or tinkling sounding of bells. It traces back to the Latin for bell and the verb tintinnare meaning to ring, clang, or jingle.

It has obvious connection with ringing in the ear know as Tinnitus, and a less glamorous, slang term, tinkle for going to the bathroom with reference to water upon water.

Example #1

The tintinnabulation accompanying my morning hangover transpired to have less to do with tinnitus, and more to do with the location of the bathroom directly above the room I was lying in.

Example #2

Edgar Allan Poe celebrates the sonic overtones of tintinnabulation in his poem "The Bells," which includes lines about "the tintinnabulation that so musically wells / From the bells, bells, bells, bells, / Bells, bells, bells—/ From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells."

"The Bells" is also a play by Leopold Davis Lewis which was one of the greatest successes of the British actor Henry Irving. The quote, "The Bells! The Bells!" is often miss-attributed to Quasimodo.

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