Thursday, July 28, 2005

Today's Word: Rubricate

Today's word harkens back to the days when books were laboriously printed by hand, and the work that went into crafting them imbued awesome value and power into the written word! Today's word applies directly to words!

To rubricate something is to highlight it or to give it added importance!

In the days when books were made from leather and parchment and ink was made from crushed berries and rare ores...books were highly prized luxury goods! Soon, simply writing out text became mundane, and scholars and monks and scribes began to play around with the look and feel of their work.

Capital letters, colorful inks, and even full pictorial scenes gave importance and beauty to script!

These so-called 'illuminated' manuscripts are now highly prized collector's items, with the legendary Book of Kells being among the most intricately adorned.

The root word 'rubric' means an established order or classification. This fits nicely into the world of books, as most titles and headings were most commonly highlighted, and color-schemes allowed for greater organization and ease-of reference.

Rubric, of course, comes from the Latin for 'red', and it still holds true today that red is used as the most urgent visual alert! (It is interesting to note that, in the medieval era, red was a color of wealth and power - particularly in the church. You can gauge the wealth - and sense of modesty - of a cathedral by inspecting the stained glass windows. Colored glass is created by including various metal ores in the molten glass, and red is created by including gold in the mix, thus red stained glass was very rare!)

Rubricate is now an acceptable term for anything that has been emphasized or otherwise made distinct. It is to place importance on something and to distinguish it as outside the regular order of things!



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