Definition: To remove the nucleus of something, to uncover a truth, to explain, to bring out.
‘Enucleation’ entered the English language in the 1640s, having first been enucleated from Latin. The original Latin word was ‘enucleatus’, referring to something that was ‘clean’ or ‘pure’. In particular, it referred to a fruit that had been cleaned of its pith. It was originally conscripted into the English language by scientists in search of new phrases and words to assist them at the dawn of modern science. Nowadays, it is primarily used by biologists to describe the process of depriving something of a nucleus. It can also simply refer to the act of removing something from its cover – eg, a tumor.
Why this word?
Almost every country has exams that children must pass in order to qualify for University. In America, students sit the SATs. In the UK, it is the A Level exams. Here in Ireland, we sit the Leaving Certificate, a rigorous, gruelling set of exams on at least six subjects that require essay-length discussions. One friend had a tip for me on how to sound smart: pick five big words that nobody knows and you’ll sound clever. My five words included ‘ennucleated’.
Thus, when asked to write about, say, Austin Clarke’s beautiful poem ‘The Planters Daughter’, I was able to enucleate from the words that Clarke was attempting to describe the simple beauty of the woman:
Men that had seen her
Drank deep and were silent,
The women were speaking
Wherever she went –
As a bell that is rung
Or a wonder told shyly,
And O she was the Sunday
In every week.
Ahhh … that poem takes me back…
How to use this Word:
Ennucleate is a ready-to-use word. In Ireland, we already use the phrase ‘to get to the nucleas’ of a matter. Thus, we’re already half way there. Lawyers can attempt to enucleate the truth. Journalists can enucleate the real story from the official spin. And English students can continue to enucleate meaning from poetry.