Posted in


I’ve decided to start a new section on my webpage.  It’s called the “Philologer’s Corner.”  Literally, a philologer is a lover of words.   I shall discuss briefly words that I have to look up in my reading.  I enjoy doing that because it helps me understand what I’m reading but also because it is fascinating to find out the origins of words and their various meanings.

I am reading Linda Proud’s Pallas and the Centaur, the second in her Botticelli trilogy of historical novels about Renaissance Florence.  I highly recommend this series for anyone interested in that period, including its art and philosophy and not only its history.  The scholar Angelo Poliziano had been drinking and needed to apologize to his patron Lorenzo de’ Medici.  Here’s the sentence.

“Angelo apologized and explained about the wine of Ognissanti and its papaverous qualities.”

Papaverous is an adjective derived from the Latin papaveraceae, which means “of or relating to poppies.”  Figuratively it can mean “sleep inducing.”

Papaverous brought to mind two very positive memories, one silly, the other very nostalgic.  One of my favorite movies is The Wizard of Oz.  I imagined the wicked witch standing over her crystal ball, waving her hands as Dorothy and most of her companions fall asleep and chanting “Papaverous, papaverous, lovely papaverous flowers.”  Well, I suppose “poppies, poppies, lovely poppies” sounds better.

The second memory was evoked by the dictionary synonym for “papaverous.”  It is “soporific.”   We used to read to our children Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit series.  In The Tale of Peter Rabbit Peter ate too much of Mr. McGregor’s lettuces.  He fell asleep because they had a soporific effect.

We loved reading those stories to our children, and they loved them.  I recommend that you read them to your children or grandchildren.  They will not have a soporific effect, and you might just create some philologers.


2 thoughts on “Papaverous

  1. thanks Bill- picturing that witch chanting papaverous made me chuckle. And our kids loved Peter Rabbit too. The reading of books also helped make them into philologers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *