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Oct 13, 2008
This week's theme
Words about words

This week's words
epeolatry
univocalic
paragoge
semasiology
cacology

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Today when we spell the word "color" instead of "colour" we can thank a crotchety, humorless man for saving wear on our fingers, not to mention savings on paper and those obscenely expensive inkjet printer cartridges. Oct 16 marks the 250th birth anniversary of Noah Webster (1758-1843), lexicographer extraordinaire, who compiled the American Dictionary of the English Language (1828), the first authoritative lexicon of American English.

Webster believed in establishing cultural independence from Britain and as such he emphasized a distinct American spelling and pronunciation. His dictionary listed various unusual and shortened spellings of words. He would hardly have imagined how the tide would turn one day. According to reports, more British children today spell "color" instead of "colour", for example. Webster's suggestion of using "tung" instead of "tongue" didn't stick, though.

Today Webster's name is synonymous with dictionaries, and the date of his birth is observed as Dictionary Day. In his honor, this week we'll present words about words. As Webster said, "the process of a living language is like the motion of a broad river which flows with a slow, silent, irresistible current."

epeolatry

PRONUNCIATION:
(ep-i-OL-uh-tree)

MEANING:
noun: The worship of words.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek epos (word) + -latry (worship). The first citation of the word is from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., in his 1860 book Professor at the Breakfast Table.

USAGE:
"I read my dictionary for a few more minutes, until tiredness eventually brought my epeolatry to an end for the day."
Roger Day; Anurada Negotiates Our Wobbly Planet; Lulu; 2006.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Here lives a free man. Nobody serves him. -Albert Camus, writer, philosopher, Nobel laureate (1913-1960)

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