Wednesday, March 15, 2006

In a Word: Benighted

Here's a word you don't see every day: benighted.

I bet you can't guess the meaning of it just by looking at it (if you don't already know it). I couldn't, anyway. For starters, forget about being knighted, as in beknighted. That isn't even a word. If you break it down, as in benighted, you could imagine being turned into night or being covered in night. Now we're getting somewhere.

According to the good people at Houghton Mifflin, benighted means: "1. Overtaken by night or darkness. 2. Being in a state of moral or intellectual darkness; unenlightened."

So there you have it. Those of us who just learned a new word should consider ourselves hereby enlightened, brought up to date, set straight, and otherwise educated by Her Majesty the American Heritage Dictionary. (You could also say that we've been unbenighted, but thankfully that's not a real word.)