In a word: Gnomic

Weekly vocabulary feature

September 27, 2010|By John McIntyre, The Baltimore Sun

Each week, The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar -- another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. Use it in a sentence in a comment below, and the best sentence will be featured next week. This week's word:


It means "wise" and "pithy," often with an overtone of obscurity, usually applied to aphorisms or the writer of aphorisms. The word, pronounced NO-mik, has only an etymological relationship with gnomes, garden or otherwise. It comes from the Greek gnome, intelligence. In fact the Greek word has been adopted intact into English, pronounced either as nome or NOH-mee, for a wise, pithy saying. Gnomes got the name because they were thought to harbor occult knowledge.

Example: The gnomic utterances of the Delphic Oracle encouraged listeners to believe what they wanted to hear.

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