In the course of reading John Crowley’s novel The Translator (how could I resist a book with a title like that?), I came to a sudden halt on page 31 at the sentence “She wondered (though the wonder never quite rose over the limn of hurt consciousness) how she would ever be able to do anything daring or good ever again.” The limn of hurt consciousness? I had never seen the word used as a noun, but it’s not a common word anyway, and John Crowley is clearly a learned man (he wrote a novel called Dæmonomania, with an æ ligature, for heaven’s sake), so I was perfectly prepared to look it up and discover some rare and beautiful usage I could commit to memory. But the OED knows only the verb, originally ‘illuminate (letters, manuscripts, books)’ or ‘adorn or embellish with gold or bright colour,’ then ‘paint (a picture or portrait); portray, depict (a subject),’ which is its modern sense (insofar as it can be said to have one). I was desperately trying to imagine what a nonce nominal use might import (hurt consciousness as a gilt illumination?), when years of typo-hunting kicked in and it suddenly came to me: Crowley meant limen, ‘the limit below which a given stimulus ceases to be perceptible; the minimum amount of stimulus or nerve-excitation required to produce a sensation. Also called threshold.’ The sense fit perfectly: the wonder never quite rose over the threshold of hurt consciousness. Somewhere along the way an e dropped out, and the intended word was so obscure itself that everyone who looked at this bit of text thereafter must have shrugged and thought “Man, that Crowley knows a lot of words.” Which he does, but in this case his vocabulary has proved fatal to his wounded word’s chances of recovery.