Tuesday, January 4, 2011

EXPLAINER: What is the Meaning of the Word 'Nuptial'?

What is a nuptial?  Or, what are nuptials?

NUPTIAL is a word used to describe or refer to things of, or relating and/or pertaining to, marriage or the marriage ceremony, as in 'nuptial vows' or 'nuptial celebration'.  The word originated in the 15th century and is derived from the word nuptialis (singular form; nuptiae is plural) which is Latin for 'wedding' and nubere which means 'to marry'.  "Nuptial" can also mean something characteristic of mating or relating to the mating season of animals, such as 'nuptial displays of plumage' when peacocks show of their feather arrays.

How do you say it?  "Nuptial" is pronounced with only two syllables: [NUHP-shull], with an ending that sounds like the words "partial" or maybe "official".  You may also have heard it pronounced similar to "actual" or "mutual": [NUHP-choo-uhl] or [NUHP-shoo-uhl] but these are not considered standard pronunciations.

Sources: Merriam-Webster online dictionary and reference.com's online definition.

Other interesting nuptial stuff:
The 17th century classical music composer GEORG MUFFAT wrote the lovely Splendid Nuptiae as the fourth Fasciculi movement from his work, Florilegium Secundum.  Check out the website Societas Via Romana for insight on marriage in ancient Rome.  And this Gregorian Chant passage is performed by the Gregorian Choir of Paris:

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