Lexicon Big Year: May 22

May 22: Not easy to pronounce, Steven Poole’s rare word for today, but I love it: deipnosophist. According to him, it’s a very ancient Greek word that still finds a place in dictionaries, and it means “someone learned in the mysteries of the kitchen.” But it’s more than that. If you’re a deipnosophist, you’re a whiz-bang chef but also a “philosopher-eater,” someone who shines intellectually over a dinner party table. Dinner parties quickly bore me and I can cook but barely, but hey, I can dream of one day morphing into a deipnosophist.

What word has struck me over the last week or so? It’s distancing, that is, the verb distance and its associated noun. Until recently, we would “travel a long distance” but the verb, as in “I distance myself from him,” was rarely used. Now “social distancing” and “social distance” are lockdown commonplaces.

Source: A Word for Every Day of the Year by Steven Poole.

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