Immure: an innocent word with a dark history!
The word I've chosen for this week's Lexicon entry may seem innocent at first, but it actually has a very dark history. That word is Immure, and it means to "Enclose or confine (someone) against their will" or "to build into or entomb in a wall." Yep. It's the act of building people into walls. Immure comes from the Latin "Murus," which is the Latin noun for "wall." It was first used in 1583 and literally meant "to wall in" or "enclose in a wall." However, Immure is now used to define the act of general confinement. The act of Immurement dates back to ancient times, and it was used by the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and more. The most popular methods of Immurement included building the person into a small space behind a wall, enclosing them in coffins, or trapping them in tombs or caverns. It was mostly used to carry out a death sentence, but some people actually Immured themselves willingly. Those people were fed through small slits or windows, and they would just hang out in that small space until they felt they had achieved whatever they were trying to achieve. But yeah, most people died from it. One of the most famous instances of Immurement comes from the play Antigone. After defying her uncle, Antigone is sentenced to a slow death by way of Immurement in the family tomb. According to the play:
Creon: "I will take her where the path is loneliest, and hide her, living, in rocky vault, with so much food set forth as piety prescribes, that the city may avoid a public stain. And there, praying to Hades, the only god whom she worships, perchance she will obtain release from death; or else will learn, at last, though late, that it is lost labour to revere the dead."
Antigone: "Tomb, bridal-chamber, eternal prison in the caverned rock, whither go to find mine own, those many who have perished, and whom Persephone hath received among the dead!”
Antigone ended up hanging herself so she wouldn't starve to death, but it's still very tragic.
Anyway, Immure is a verb and can be used as such when writing. Other examples might include:
"They decided to immure her in the bathroom until the authorities could be called."
"I hate being immured by so much paperwork!"
"The bird sang cheerfully, despite being immured in a cage."
The vampire smiled as he saw the moon for the first time in centuries. "I had been immured in my tomb for so long that I almost forgot what it looked like!"
To learn more about this somewhat deadly word, check out Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster, Oxford Dictionary, MacMillan Dictionary, Unusual Historicals, and Ranker.
The photo is my own.