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Today's Word



Apr 25, 2022
This week’s theme
There’s a word for it

This week’s words

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Previous week’s theme
There’s a verb form for it
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with Anu Garg

If you have been doing something for decades you’d think you have seen it all. Well, I have been researching and writing about words for 28+ years and I still get pleasantly surprised.

Sometimes I come across a brand-new word, brand-new to me even though it has been a part of the language for hundreds of years. At other times I discover that a word that I am familiar with (such as today’s word) has another meaning.

And so it goes.

With more than half a million words in the language, it’s a work of several lifetimes. Even then, you are shooting at a moving target. New words keep entering the language. Existing words keep evolving, developing new senses.

But like the boy on the beach who was able to throw some starfish back in the ocean, we don’t have to cover them all. We do as much as we can, one week at a time.

This week I share words that might make you say: I didn’t know there was a word for it!



1. An obsession with typography.
2. An obsession with typology or symbolism.
3. An obsession with getting published.

From Greek typos (impression) + mania (excessive enthusiasm or craze). Earliest documented use: 1882.

Are you the type of person who sees a billboard and is upset because the kerning between two letters didn’t look right? While reading a book, do you start to wonder about the typeface and its history and who the type designer is? If so, our diagnosis is typomania. You are type obsessive. It’s important to note here that all type obsessives are obsessive types, but the reverse is not true. Share your typomania -- we don’t care which of the three types -- write to us at words@wordsmith.org or post below (as always, include your location).

“Of all the truly calamitous afflictions of the modern world, typomania is one of the most alarming and least understood. It was first diagnosed by the German designer Erik Spiekermann as a condition peculiar to the font-obsessed, and it has one common symptom: an inability to walk past a sign (or pick up a book or a menu) without needing to identify the typeface. Sometimes font freaks find this task easy, and they move on; and sometimes their entire day is wrecked until they nail it.”
Simon Garfield; Confessions of a Typomaniac; The Wall Street Journal (New York); Sep 3, 2011.

“[Arthur Mee] seemed almost to be in the grip of some kind of grapho- or typomania, simultaneously imposing and effacing himself through book, after book, after book, after book.”
Ian Sansom; “Why Do I Cry?”; The Guardian (London, UK); Jul 21, 2007.

The rain begins with a single drop. -Manal al-Sharif, human rights activist (b. 25 Apr 1979)

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