Borrowed from Latin afflātus (“a breath, an act of breathing out or breathing upon; breeze, gust of air, vapour, wind; inspiration”), from afflāre (from afflō (“to blow, to breathe”), from ad- (“prefix meaning ‘to, towards’”) + flō (“to blow, to breathe”)) + -tus (“suffix producing an action noun from a verb”). The related Latin word adflātū was first used in the “inspiration” sense by the Roman orator and philosopher Cicero (106–43 B.C.E.) in De Natura Deorum (The Nature of the Gods, 44 B.C.E.), book II, section 167.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /əˈfleɪtəs/
- (General American) IPA(key): /əˈfleɪtəs/, /-ɾəs/
- Rhymes: -eɪtəs
- Hyphenation: af‧fla‧tus
afflatus (plural afflatuses)
- A sudden rush of creative impulse or inspiration, often attributed to divine influence.
1726, [Joseph Spence], “Evening the Third”, in An Essay on Pope's Odyssey: In which some Particular Beauties and Blemishes of that Work are Consider'd, London: Printed for James and J. Knapton, R. Knaplock, W. and J. Innys, J. Wyatt, D. Midwinter, booksellers in St. Paul's Church-Yard, London; and S. Wilmot, bookseller in Oxford, OCLC 753211929, pages 147–148:
- 'Tis extremely difficult to keep up the Spirit of Poetry in another's Compoſitions, tho' you catch all the […] apteſt Moments; and never employ the Mind, but when there is an Impetus comes upon it toward that particular buſineſs: […] I know not how far this was the Caſe with Mr. [Alexander] Pope, in this performance: but wherever it was, the Poet will be little more than a common Man: He is, at ſuch times, much the ſame as a Prophet without his Afflatus.
1822, Simon Patrick; William Lowth; Richard Arnald; Daniel Whitby; Moses Lowman, “The First Epistle to Timothy. With Annotations. [Annotations on Chap. IV.]”, in J[ohn] R[ogers] Pitman, editor, A Critical Commentary and Paraphrase on the Old and New Testament and the Apocrypha. [...] In Six Volumes, volume VI, new edition, London: Printed by J. F. Dove, St. John's Square; for Richard Priestley, 143, High Holborn, OCLC 6430665, page 293:
- […] Men acted by seducing spirits: for πνεύματα doth often signify the impulses or afflatuses of good or evil spirits; […] You are zealous, πνευματων, of spiritual gifts, or afflatuses, and so throughout the chapter; […]
1885–1886, Henry James, “chapter XVII”, in The Bostonians: A Novel, London; New York, N.Y.: Macmillan and Co., published 16 February 1886, OCLC 3179002, page 141:
- Miss Verena was a natural genius, and he hoped very much she [Miss Chancellor] wasn't going to take the nature out of her. She could study up as she went along; she had got the great thing that you couldn't learn, a kind of divine afflatus, as the ancients used to say, and she had better just begin on that.
1900 May, Charles H[enry] Hull, “Petty’s Place in the History of Economic Theory”, in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, volume 14, number 3, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, DOI:https://doi.org/10.2307/1882563, ISSN 0033-5533, OCLC 299660343, section II, page 318:
- "I hope," he [William Petty] writes to Aubrey, "that no man takes what I say about the living and dying of men for a mathematical demonstration." But, when the afflatus was on him, he was prone to take what he said for a mathematical demonstration himself.
1920, H[enry] L[ouis] Mencken, “The National Letters. 4. The Ferment Underground.”, in Prejudices: Second Series, New York, N.Y.: Alfred A. Knopf, OCLC 226060843, page 26:
- Imagine a sentimental young man of the provinces, awaking one morning to the somewhat startling discovery that he is full of the divine afflatus, and nominated by the hierarchy of hell to enrich the literature of his fatherland.
2018 January 2, Adam Gopnik, “Never Mind Churchill, Clement Attlee is a Model for These Times”, in The New Yorker, archived from the original on 7 January 2018:
- Titled "Citizen Clem" in Britain (Oxford University Press published it here as "Clement Attlee: The Man Who Made Modern Britain"), it is a study in actual radical accomplishment with minimal radical afflatus—a story of how real social change can be achieved, providing previously unimaginable benefits to working people, entirely within an embrace of parliamentary principles as absolute and as heroic as any in the annals of democracy.
- ^ Cicero; H. Rackham, translator (1967) De Natura Deorum; Academica (Cicero in Twenty-eight Volumes; XIX; Loeb Classical Library; 268), Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann, OCLC 371890, book II, LXVI, section 167, pages 282–283: “Nemo igitur vir magnus sine aliquo adflatu divino umquam fuit. [Therefore no great man ever existed who did not enjoy some portion of divine inspiration.]”
Perfect passive participle of afflō (“I blow, breathe (on or towards)”).
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