Vocabulary in Friendship
Vocabulary Examples in Friendship:
"empyrean..." See in text ("Friendship")
Those who reciprocate one’s friendship are, in Emerson’s opinion, the “gods of the empyrean.” The word “empyrean” describes someone or something belonging to heaven. By comparing true friends with gods, Emerson states that friendship can transcend the temporal. As he states repeatedly throughout the essay, love and friendship are celestial and god-like.
"consuetudes..." See in text ("Friendship")
The word “consuetudes,” from the Latin consuetudo, refers to a custom. Emerson claims that no custom of society will help implement a friendship. Rather, friends become united when their natures rise to the “same degree.” In other words, friendship cannot be enforced by societal norms but arises quietly and naturally when two people connect on a spiritual level.
"vitiates..." See in text ("Friendship")
The verb “vitiates” means to make defective. Here, Emerson claims that the inability to develop independently undermines “the entire relation” of the friendship. The sustainability of friendship hinges on the two friends' abilities to form their own spirits before they devote themselves to one another.
"Let us buy our entrance to this guild by a long probation...." See in text ("Friendship")
During the medieval period, the word “guild” referred to an association of merchants and craftsmen. More recently, it refers to a group of people with shared interests. By stating that we must pay to enter this “guild” only after a long probation, Emerson clarifies that friendship is an exclusive relationship; one that necessitates a period of testing and observance.
"spectacle..." See in text ("Friendship")
A “spectacle” is a show that is unusual or entertaining. By stating that one must treat a friend as a “spectacle,” Emerson intimates that friends are not property, as a child might believe, but an entity to admire and respect from a slightly distanced and estranged perspective.
"magnanimous..." See in text ("Friendship")
Someone who is “magnanimous” is someone with an exceptional sense of generosity and benevolence. Emerson claims that only those who are kind and good-hearted can expect to enter into sincere friendships because only those have the ability to approach friendship with the “religious treatment” and sacredness it needs to develop.
"evanescent..." See in text ("Friendship")
The adjective “evanescent” refers to something that vanishes like vapor. In this context, Emerson uses this word to describe conversation, which he says is malleable and fleeting. Conversation is not an acquired skill; rather, it is an “evanescent relation,” meaning that the course of the conversation hinges on who is speaking.
"drudgery..." See in text ("Friendship")
In the final line of this paragraph, Emerson states that friendships should be revitalizing, new, and never something that falls into “drudgery,” meaning dull or fatiguing work. Friendships should uplift and heighten one’s daily experiences by “embellish[ing] it by courage, wisdom and unity.”
"sutler..." See in text ("Friendship")
The word “sutler,” which comes from the Dutch word soetelen, meaning to perform lowly tasks, refers to a salesperson who makes a living by following a troop and selling goods to soldiers.
"lucre..." See in text ("Friendship")
The noun “lucre” means monetary gain. This and the repetition “by” when listing the damaging ways faux friendships develop emphasize Emerson’s claim that what differentiates the sacred from the superficial friendship is tenderness and pure love. Friendships which grow out of tenderness provide greater fortune than those which develop in the name of profit.
"bower..." See in text ("Friendship")
The word “bower” describes a walkway covered in trees and vines. Emerson claims that a house built of trees and vines might “entertain [a friend] for a single day”; however, a house built on “solemnity” and respect makes for the most successful infrastructure for maintaining strong bonds.
"tough husk..." See in text ("Friendship")
The word “husk” refers to a dry outer shell of various seeds and fruit. In this metaphor, Emerson equates “bashfulness and apathy” to a tough husk, whereas friendship is associated with words like “delicate” and “premature.” The contrast between the coarseness of a husk and the fragility of an unripened bud demonstrates the extremities between these two polarities.
"ennuis..." See in text ("Friendship")
The word “ennuis,” borrowed from French, describes a sense of irritation and boredom. Emerson uses this word to describe how when we meet new people, earthly annoyances seem to disappear.
"an element of love like a fine ether..." See in text ("Friendship")
In this simile, Emerson describes “love like a fine ether.” The noun “ether” refers to a rare element believed to fill the upper regions of space or the heavens. By juxtaposing the imagery of the east winds against the ether of love, Emerson suggests that while selfishness is a corporeal trait, love is a godlike, celestial quality that inhabits the far reaches of heaven.
"Maugre..." See in text ("Friendship")
Although rarely used today, the word “maugre” means “in spite of.” The two stems of the word mau and gré demonstrate a paradoxical relationship between “evil” and “grace,” translated respectively. In this context, Emerson begins to lay out the paradoxes of society, that despite the “selfishness… [of] the world,” love still exists.