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Words: analeptic, adj. or n.

STRANGE THE way that the mind works. Some of us cannot hear the pop of the cork being released from a bottle without the word analeptic springing to mind. Such is poetry.

In his 1963 masterpiece On The Circuit, W. H. Auden describes an airborne reading tour of America, the fatigue of which makes him exclaim, "is this a milieu where I must . . . snatch from the bottle in my bag an analeptic swig?" It probably wasn't milk.

Of Latin and Greek origins, the word - meaning restorative - turns out not to be in contemporary usage after all, but petered out in the mid- 19th century, when used to urge the curative properties of chocolate and sage. Auden was surely right to put his trust in the harder stuff.