Discuss word origins and meanings.
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Jul 28, 2019 4:51 pm

<2019 “This vision of a comparatively open border and some freedom of travel is increasingly what is meant on the Korean Peninsula by ‘reunification.’ There has been talk of normalized relations and corporate exchange, and Seoul has even floated the notion of a European Union-style confederation. Literal reunification, defined as the as the abrupt political merger of the two Koreas, has mostly passed into a prelapsarian dream of peace activists.”—The New York Times Magazine, 12 May, page 30>
Never ran into this one before and it does have an intriguing sound to it. Thus, no choice but to check it out. When I did, I found that contributions of a few dictionaries combined, did a better job on this word than any one. Here’s what I came up with:

prelapsarian adjective

1) Theology: Characteristic of or belonging to the time or state before the fall of humankind where ‘the fall’ refers to the event in the Bible when Adam and Eve were forced to leave the Garden of Eden because they had sinned against God; innocent and unspoilt. <the prelapsarian innocence of Eden><a prelapsarian Eden of astonishing plenitude>

2) Characteristic of or pertaining to any innocent or carefree period; innocent, unspoiled,carefree <a prelapsarian youth> <Beard took off for Africa straight out of school, chronicling the continent's prelapsarian beauty and the spectacle of its cataclysmic decline.><Remember that prelapsarian age when you gave things your undivided attention?><Nevertheless, the road opened amid a kind of prelapsarian optimism.>

Etymology: Late 19th century from pre-‘before’ + Latin lapsus, from labi ‘to fall’

(,,, and The Oxford English Dictionary)

The following quotes are from The Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
<1874 “Of such nakedness they have a perfect prelapsarian, speaking theologically . . . unconsciousness.”—Times (London), 21 September, page 7/2>

<1879 “A prelapsarian perfection symbolized by nudity.”—Demonology and Devil-lore by M. D. Conway, II. IV. xix, page 225>

<1932 “The poet glimpses here a recovered spontaneity . . . analogous to the buoyant, prelapsarian ‘naturalness’ of the farm-girl.”—New Bearings in English Poetry by F. R. Leavis, vi, page 209>

<1977 “Glenda Jackson's evocation of poet Stevie Smith suggests a woman of prelapsarian innocence.”—Daily Telegraph (London), 24 March, page 15/5>

<1990 “Also, many of them cherish an image of the countercultural ‘60s and ‘70s as a prelapsarian era of peace, love, environmental concern . . .”– Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois), 30 September, page 92>

<2003 “Ultimately, in fact, Morrison seems to suggest that the truest love is presexual, prelapsarian, a state of innocence: the kind of love bond formed between two children.”—The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), 26 October, page 226>

<2011 “Ondaatje made a fortune publishing, but he writes little about his 30-year business career. His quest for the prelapsarian life on his father’s tea plantation gives one spur to these essays.”—The Spectator, 27 August>

<2017 “The Summer of Love ostensibly refers to a time, a few months in 1967, and place, the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. It’s really about a state of mind – parti-colored, untethered, prelapsarian – associated with that time and place.”—The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts), 9 July, page N1>

Ken Greenwald — July 28, 2019

Re: prelapsarian

Post by gdwdwrkr » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:08 pm

Lapse must be the root of it.

Re: prelapsarian

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:32 pm

I was clearing off a pile of papers on my desk when I came across a page I had cut out of the The New York Times Magazine back in March in which I had underlined the word prelapsaraian. The article it appeared in was about the author's visit to the Chernobyl disaster site and I thought that the paragraph containing the word provided a very nice example of its use.
<2020 "This is the colossal irony of Chernobyl: Because it is the site of an enormous ecological catastrophe, this region has been for decades now basically void of human life; and because it is basically void of human life, it is effectively a vast nature preserve. To enter the Zone, in this sense, is to have one foot in a prelapsarian paradise and the other in a postapocalyptic wasteland."- The New York Times Magazine, 29 March, page 39>

Ken Greenwald — September 12, 2020

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