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Q From Ann Fisher: I have been unable to find a definition for the word oneirodynia anywhere. Perhaps you might help?

A No problem, though it is a rare word, and needs a larger dictionary than the average to be sure of finding it. It comes, like other words starting in oneiro-, from the Greek oneiros, “a dream”. So we have oneiromancy, foretelling the future by interpreting dreams, and oneirism for a dream-like hallucination in a waking state. In oneirodynia it’s paired with a suffix that comes from the Greek odyne, “pain”. It refers to troubled sleep, nightmares, perhaps sleepwalking.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 15 Aug. 1998

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 15 August 1998.