I read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods last month, and besides providing yesterday's Words of Others, it had a slew of interesting words in it. Gaiman is a fantastic writer, and he uses words like a jeweler, choosing and setting each one precisely where it will sparkle for maximum effect. (Warning: Spoiler to follow, but the book is eight years old. Still, if you plan to read it and really don't want to know anything, you should skip this.)
The novel explores the gods that people brought with them to America, and then forgot. In the scene where I found this word, the main character, Shadow, has been brought back from death after having been hung on a tree. As he died he dreamed and had visions, and Shadow is now rediscovering the world of the living:
Once he was dressed, he looked more normal. Grave, though. She wondered how far he had traveled, and what it cost him to return. He was not the first whose return she had initiated; and she knew that , soon enough, the million-yard stare would fade, and the memories and the dreams that he had brought back from the tree would be elided by the world of things you could touch. That was the way it always went.
OED gives these definitions:
- 1a. To destroy, annihilate (the force of evidence). Obsolete.
- 1b. Law, especially Scottish. To annul, do away with, quash, rebut.
- 2. To strike out, suppress, pass over in silence.
- 3. Grammar. To omit (a vowel, or syllable) in pronunciation.
The closest sense to what Gaiman meant here seems to be the first, obsolete definition, though the second works as well. But I like the idea that Shadow's dreams, which were probably real, will fade under the force of evidence of the "real" world.
The word comes from the Latin ēlīdere, meaning to strike out : ē-, ex-, ex- out + laedere, to strike., according to the American Heritage Dictionary. AHD also gives a slightly different set of definitions:
- 1a. To omit or slur over (a syllable, for example) in pronunciation.
- 1b. To strike out (something written).
- 2a. To eliminate or leave out of consideration.
- 2b. To cut short; abridge.