Tuesday, December 29, 2009

English language word of the week: Quintessence

He/she/or it is the quintessence or the epitome of. A certain type of style. Falling Water became the quintessence or epitome of the modernist mid-century style. Came to define the style.

Main Entry: quin·tes·sence
Pronunciation: \kwin-ˈte-sən(t)s\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French quinte essence, from Medieval Latin quinta essentia, literally, fifth essence
Date: 15th century
1 : the fifth and highest element in ancient and medieval philosophy that permeates all nature and is the substance composing the celestial bodies
2 : the essence of a thing in its purest and most concentrated form
3 : the most typical example or representative
— quin·tes·sen·tial \ˌkwin-tə-ˈsen(t)-shəl\ adjective
— quin·tes·sen·tial·ly adverb

I use it mainly as in the second definition. Isn't the first definition beautiful though??????j NOw that I read the third version that is the most used definition today, The fifth essence of what?

Here is from an online encyclopedia. Alchemy: I had a feeling that is what is meant by fifth element. Distilled to it's purest form. Cutting to the core, incisive.

quintessence substance latent in all things, the extraction of which was one of the objects of alchemy XV; most essential part XVI. — F. quintessence, †quinte essence — medL. quinta essentia ‘fifth essence’, the fifth primary body besides the elements of earth, fire, air, and water.
Hence quintessential XVII.

No comments: