Verve amidst the rubble

Earlier this month, the New York Times had an article about the nightclub scene that is emerging in Baghdad despite the safety risks. I came across a word that I see a lot but didn't know what it means in a paragraph about one nightclub owner, Antoine al-Hage:

One of the Iraqi partners in the club, Jumaa al-Musawi, seemed to appreciate Mr. Hage’s verve. The restaurant, he worried rightfully, was a hazardous adventure, but he said it was worth trying.

I checked verve out in the American Heritage Dictionary:

  • 1. Energy and enthusiasm in the expression of ideas, especially in artistic performance or composition.
  • 2. Vitality; liveliness.
  • 3. Archaic. Aptitude; talent.

Hage certainly has enthusiasm and liveliness:

Antoine al-Hage, capitalism’s equivalent of a soldier of fortune, smiles at it all — the danger, the risk and, of course, the payoff of bringing nightlife to Iraq.

“Where there’s war,” he said, “there’s lots of money.”

The AHD etymology: "French, from Old French, meaning fanciful expression, probably from the Vulgar Latin verva, from Latin verba, plural of verbum, meaning word."