From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
: pictorial representation in terms of light and shade without regard to color
a : the arrangement or treatment of light and dark parts in a pictorial work of art
b : the interplay or contrast of dissimilar qualities (as of mood or character)
: a 16th century woodcut technique involving the use of several blocks to print different tones of the same color; also : a print made by this technique
: the interplay of light and shadow on or as if on a surface
: the quality of being veiled or partly in shadow
For some reason, I really like the sound of this word. Why? I can’t really put my hand to it, but the sound of it when one says the word — it is ethereal. Otherworldly.
Now, I have to admit that I have not heard it used once in everyday conversations, and I have seen it in literature for only a handful of times with the majority of these being in one novel (that I have reread). However, every time I read/listen as it goes by, I feel that the word has a personality. Mind you, if it was a person, it would probably be a bit too pretentious — but as a word I would really like to know it better. I would like to use it… but not too much.
For the etymologically inclined, it would seem that the root of the word is Italian — the words chiaro and oscuro, light and dark. Maybe that Romance heritage is what gives the word some charm in an English sentence, although it could be something else.
It could also be that if I knew what made me like this word so much, I would not like it any more. So I shall let this mystery be, at least for today…