I  like discovering words that are new to me. This is from V.M.Yeates, Winged Victory (1934):

A flaming meteor fell out of a cloud close by them and plunged earthwards. It was an aeroplane going down in flames from some fight above the clouds. Where it fell the atmosphere was stained by a thanatognomonic black streak…

Thanatognomonic. what a word! It’s a medical term that means heralding the approach of death. I’m now looking for opportunities to use it in conversation.



  1. Posted July 25, 2016 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    In the midst of conversation he was wracked with such violent coughing it seemed to me a thanatognomonic moment.

  2. Posted July 25, 2016 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    (off topic) I just tried to email you with a reference to a book that might interest you but it was rejected and I’m told that “Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

    Would you kindly email me the new one and I’ll send the original post intended

  3. Roger
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    As someone else who relishes new words I was interested in “thanatognomonic” and annoyed I’d missed it when I read Winged Victory. Checking up on where it was in the book I found out the version I’d read was abbreviated, so I’ve also got the pleasure of readong the full book in store.

  4. Roger
    Posted July 26, 2016 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Thinking more about it, Yeates’s use of “thanatognomonic” is even more interesting: the appearance of a medical term meaning “indicating the approach of death” in a book by a man dying of consumption, a rare break from the book’s stylistic colloquiality, shows the word’s power and significance for him.

Post a Comment

%d bloggers like this: