May 22, 2011

"To rapture"

The surprising snafu for Robert Camping and his followers illuminates the verb "to rapture."  It means to carry a Christian believer to Heaven in the "rapture" or "Rapture" so that he avoids the pains of the "Tribulation" at the end of the world. I'm used to the verb "enrapture"--to seize someone's attention, to make someone rapt; but for me "to rapture" has the specific meaning of taking someone up to Heaven.  Use of "rapture" to mean "enrapture" is attested in dictionaries, but I'd bet that meaning is on its way out.  The word is from the Latin "rapere," meaning to "seize" or take away.  In an old-fashioned English use "to rape" meant to kidnap or carry off, among other things.  The Oxford English Dictionary suggests the sexual meaning of rape came later, by transference; a Latin word for that was "stuprare," and if you look up the English words "stuprate" and "stupration," you will find them.

No comments:

Post a Comment