Cool WOTD – “maril” (Tolkien connection!)

From the OED Online’s Word of the Day:

Your word for today is: maril, n.

Your word for today is: maril, n.

maril, n.
[‘ An ornamental binding material with a variegated grain, made from scraps of coloured leather mixed in a resin, compressed, and dried.’]
Pronunciation: Brit. /ma?r?l/, U.S. /m??r?l/
Etymology: < -maril (in Silmaril, any of three mystic jewels featuring in works by J. R. R. Tolkien (1892–1973)): see quot. 19741, although Smith notes elsewhere in the same work that it subsequently occurred to him that the word could also be analysed as < mar- (in marbled adj.) + i- (in inlaid adj.) + l- (in leather n.).
An ornamental binding material with a variegated grain, made from scraps of coloured leather mixed in a resin, compressed, and dried.
1974 P. Smith New Direct. in Bookbinding x. 59 The first book on which experiments with early maril were tried was a copy of The Lord of the Rings… A name had to be found to describe this material… I remembered the name Silmaril in The Lord of the Rings and thought that the word had the right ‘ring’ to it, especially the ‘maril’ part which was short.
1974 P. Smith New Direct. in Bookbinding x. 59 Each volume reveals one or other facet of feathered, sectioned and maril onlays.
1978 Book Collector Summer 176 When I first visited the binder’s studio in 1969, he was experimenting with planing flat sections of maril to make decorative boards, but this has not been developed due to..the possibility of achieving the same effect by onlaying.
1989 New Bookbinder 9 26/1 One of the most remarkable innovations was the making of maril, which opened up for book-artists the whole range of fluid and broken surfaces.

I had always thought that, were I to have my own proper space with some elbow room, I’d like to take up bookbinding.

On that note, I urge everyone to get a Kindle!  HERE


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Complete the analogy.

    Kindle is to book


    Simulacrum is to Organ

  2. Choirmaster says:

    the word had the right ‘ring’ to it

    All of Tolkien’s own words have that ‘ring’ to them. Even ordinary English words, once extruded through his pen, seem to ring in answer. He had a gift for making language—any language, organic or artificial—sound beautiful, sorrowful, ugly, or scary simply by his choice of words, or how they were strung together, and in a way that transcends regional pronunciation and accents.

    Many readers overlook the deeply Catholic moral and philosophical foundations to all of Tolkien’s works, but The Lord of the Rings is by far the most comprehensive of his morality tales. I encourage everyone to read the Akallabêth, the fourth and last part of the Silmarillion. It tells the tale of the downfall of Numenor, an island kingdom of men, established by the Gods of the West for the faithful men that fought or sympathized with them in the defeat of Melkor. The kings of Numenor were priest-kings, ruling the people and offering their first fruits to God from the holy place on their highest mountain.

    In time, after millennia of peace and prosperity, the kings fell into sin, eschewing the reverence towards the Gods of the West, and neglecting the worship of and priestly sacrifice to God. They took up the use of their own vulgar tongue and the sacred language of the Gods was forbidden to be spoken, while the official records and regnal names were recorded also in the vernacular. But a remnant of the faithful, under persecution, held fast to their ancient culture and religion. They were comforted in time by a king who attempted to restore their tradition, eased the persecution, and took his regnal name in the sacral language, and resumed their reverence to the West and worship of God. This change in policy did not hold, and the next king finally destroyed their culture, openly persecuted the faithful, and denied all reverence to the West, plotting instead to overthrow the Gods and seize their lands.

    Amid this milieu, the king captured Sauron and took him hostage (such was their military power), but was instead further corrupted by him, and introduced novel cults and temples where the faithful were sacrificed to Melkor on altars of fire. At length, when the king grew old and death was near, Sauron succeeded in convincing him to launch his forces against the Gods of the West. The story is ambiguous, but it is implied that the king was so powerful that he might have triumphed over the Gods and occupied their lands.

    But it was not to be. The Gods petitioned the One God to intervene, and he released a great chastisement on the Numenoreans, opening a chasm in the earth and swallowing up their navy, and even the island of Numenor itself along with all its people, faithful or not. From this catastrophe, a small number of faithful escaped, led by Elendil, whose son was Isildur, and established kingdoms in exile in middle earth.

    Something, or things, about this narrative have always struck me as very applicable to our own real situation, and the sense has been growing in these last few years.

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