I guess one of the benefits of living in 21st century is that you can look up any word you do not know and get the definition of it instantly while reading a book. It is especially an efficient workflow for someone like me whose mother tongue is not English and whose goal in life is to master the language. Of course, the problem is that it is darn hard to put down your phone and get back to reading once you attained your answer. There is always a stream of information ready to be consumed in that little device…
Recently, I had a rare occasion of having to look up a word and actually doing a related research instead of ending up in a never ending digression. The word was ‘sublittoral’ which Don DeLillo (an Italian boy from Bronx as he’d like to call himself) used in ‘White Noise‘ while describing that heightened sense we all experience whenever we hear a shocking news for the first time.
A Webster’s definition of ‘sublittoral’ is:
“(of a marine animal, plant, or deposit) living, growing, or accumulating near to or just below the shore.• relating to or denoting a biogeographic zone extending (in the sea) from the average line of low tide to the edge of the continental shelf or (in a large lake) beyond the littoral zone but still well lit.”
It could be just me, but the definition did not clarify the meaning at all. It all became very clear when I saw this diagram from Britannica’s website:
I do not know what kind of field will require you to know this information (maybe an oceanographer or a rescue diver?), but I certainly found it to be fascinating. And, what a way to find out what the words sublittoral and pelagic exactly mean!