Classical Usage: That was really some storm back in Chapter 119, wasn’t it? The masts were lit like candles, Ahab’s newly minted harpoon flamed with the very fire of hell. Yikes. It was a little unnerving for everyone, especially Starbuck, who really wanted to put out the lightning rods, but his cries of “The corpusants! The corpusants!” fell on Ahab’s obdurate ears. The balls of fire were enough to knock the easy-going Stubb off his feet with pleas of , “the corpusants have mercy on us all!”
Classically Mad Usage: The above definition of came from my Penguin Edition endnotes, but I did a quick google search in additional research and was very surprised to see this definition: An appearance of St. Elmo’s fire on a mast, rigging, or some other structure.
St. Elmo’s Fire? Like the 1980’s coming-of-age film? Like the love theme from the same film that I remember adoring at one of my cousin’s piano recitals when I was in elementary school? Like “gonna be your man in motion” that I played in 6th grade pep-band while drooling over a boy named Scott?
Guess not. I guess St. Elmo’s fire is actually a weather phenomenon involving luminous plasma and grounded objects. Who knew? As usual, that’s rhetorical, don’t tell me you did.