lexiphanes (lex-SIF-uh-neez) noun
One who uses words pretentiously.
Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org) sends A Word A Day to people all around the world. Sometimes the words are themed, as they were this week. Other times they are random. They are not always words that most people (particularly children’s writers) would work into their daily conversations or writings, but they are fascinating.
It makes sense to me that a word used to describe those who use words in an effort to show how clever they are would also be such a word…
Unsurprisingly, lexiphanes is of greek origin. One of the things I really like about Anu Garg’s offerings, is that he includes a recent passage where the featured word has been used in context. Uncommon these words might be, but they are used.
In my last salaried job, I’d take in a word a week and write it on the whiteboard in the lunch room. I’d add three possible definitions, including the correct one. Workmates would indicate their guess. Some used word root awareness to decipher the word, others eliminated definitions to arrive at the most likely meaning. Others were more random. But it was always fun. Different people retained different words. One worker still rolls her favourite around her tongue most times we meet. Omphaloskepsis (contemplation of one’s navel) is a delicious-sounding word, but also a very impressive one for a less grand, although debatably worthwhile, activity.
Does that make either of us a lexiphanes? Possibly. Although I can’t imagine, no matter how I’d like to, working it into a sentence and making it feel natural. The word just makes me smile.
to subscribe to A Word A Day…