Numinous (definition)

Numinous (/ˈnjmɪnəs/) is an English adjective, derived from the Latin numen, meaning “arousing spiritual or religious emotion; mysterious or awe-inspiring”.

Origin: Numinous is an English adjective, derived in the 17th century from the Latin numen, that is (especially in ancient Roman religion) a “deity or spirit presiding over a thing or space”. Meaning “denoting or relating to a numen”, it describes the power or presence or realisation of a divinity. It is etymologically unrelated to Immanuel Kant’s noumenon, a Greek term referring to an unknowable reality underlying all things.

The word was popularized by the German theologian Rudolf Otto in his influential 1917 book Das Heilige, which appeared in English as The Idea of the Holy in 1923. Otto writes that while the concept of “the Holy” is often used to convey moral perfection – and does entail this – it contains another distinct element, beyond the ethical sphere, for which he uses the term numinous.

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