Notebook, 1993-



Length, Period, Level, Era, Epoch . . . . Extent of Time

R  E  F  E  R  E  N  C  E  S 
Age n. 1. the length of time during which a being or thing has existed. 2. any period of human life regarded as having specific characteristics or as involving certain privileges or responsibilities. 3. the latter period of a natural term of existence. 4. the influences operating on the body and mind during this period. 5. the life expectancy of an average being of some kind: The age of thr horse is from 25 to 30 years. 6. a distinctive period of history; era. 7. the contemporary world: What is the spirit of the age? 8. the world contemporary to any person: a novel portraying Shelley against the background of his age. 9. an indefineitely long time. 10. Psychol. the level of mental, emotional, or educational development of an individual. 11. Geol. a. a period of the history of the earth distinguished by some special feature: Ice Age. b. a period during which one particular stage of rock formation takes place: shorter than an epoch. 12. of age, Law. being any of several ages, usually 21 or 18, at which certain legal rights, as voting, marraige, etc., are acquired. -v.t. 13. to grow old. 14. to mature, as wine, cheese, wood, etc. -v.i. 15. to make old; cause to grow or seem old. 16. to cause or allow to stand until transformations have taken place; mature: to age wine. [ME < OF aage, eage < VL *aetáticum < L ae(vi)tát- (s. of ae(vi)tás = aev(ium) lifetime [akin to AY1) + -itát- -ITY + -icum neut. of -icus -IC] -Syn. 6. Age, Era, Epoch, Period all refer to an extent of time. Age usually implies a considerable extent of time, esp. one associated with a dominant personality, influence, characteristic, or institution: the age of chivalry. Era and Epoch are often used interchangeable, but an Era is an extent of time Characterized by changed conditions and new undertakings: an era of invention. An Epoch is properly the beginning of an era: an epoch of armed aggression. A period may be long or short, but usually has a marked condition or feature: the glacial period; a period of expansion. 14. ripen. -Ant. 3. youth.

-age, a formal element meaning "pertaining to," occurring in loan words from French [language; voyage]; used also as a noun-forming suffix to stems of native origin [frutage; bondage; postage].

[Urdang, Laurence, ed. Random House Dictionary of The English Language. New York: Random House, 1968.]



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