I am curious as to if anyone else has heard of, seen, or used the term "absolutions." I purchased William F. Buckley, Jr.'s book The Lexicon a few weeks back, and this is one of the first words that caught my eye. Its supposed meaning is "the washing of one's body or part of it," with the example text given:

Several witnesses noted the license number, and the California authorities had it within minutes, leaving it a mystery why there was no one there at his apartment to greet Edgar Smith when he drove in to perform the identical absolutions of nineteen years earlier—an effort to remove the blood from his person and clothing.

This usage has quite the semantic parallel to the singular version of the word; however, I have had no luck in finding this exact meaning anywhere else. Any thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

(Edit: This turned out to be nothing more than a typo in my book. Ablutions was, indeed, the word that should have appeared in the text. I do thank everyone for clearing it up, though.)

  • 6
    Absolutions, or ablutions? – Andrew Leach Oct 14 '13 at 16:12
  • 2
    Must be the latter. Absolution has to do with the forgiveness of sins. – Barrie England Oct 14 '13 at 16:15
  • @TaliaFord You might have mentioned NSFW! And anyway, that probably is "absolution"; I don't think the quotation in the question should be using that word. – Andrew Leach Oct 14 '13 at 16:32
  • I've removed it. I don't know what got into me. I need absolution. – Talia Ford Oct 14 '13 at 20:02

Again, the answer is from the etymology : ablution and absolution have no connection at all :

"ablution" comes from Latin past participle ablutus of abluere = to wash away.

"absolution" from absoluere = to set free, and it is connected with absolute (absolutus = unrestrained).

The first word has kept his meaning (to take a shower or something similar), whereas the second now conveys a religious idea (freedom from the sins you have committed, because you sincerely and deeply repent - mostly a catholic notion : everything bad is now erased, as if forgotten by the Almighty).

Nota : I felt very embarrassed when writing the last word, and do hope I didn't disturb any believer in writing it.

  • Absolution of sin and washing away of blood (from a crime?) can be connected, symbolically. As the blood is washed away, so, too, is the sin. – Kristina Lopez Oct 14 '13 at 17:31
  • @Kristinia lopez You are right ; I was aware of that, but usually try to make my answers as short as possible, with regards to the precise question. – ex-user2728 Oct 14 '13 at 18:34

Absolution is the act of absolving someone

noun [mass noun]
formal release from guilt, obligation, or punishment:
absolution from the sentence
ecclesiastical declaration that a person’s sins have been forgiven:
she had been granted absolution for her sins

from Oxford Dictionary Online (ODO)

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