There. Now that I’ve scared off everyone who doesn’t have fun with wacky words, we can share some unusual words about word lovers and book lovers.
Two words describe lovers of words:
logophile and lexophile
The logophile is likely to read and reread favorite passages of a novel over and over just for the sheer love of the words in it. A lexophile especially loves anagrams, palindromes, puns, and other word play.
“Lexis” and “logos” are closely related Greek words that can mean “word,” among other things. They both form other, less well-known compounds.
Miriam-Webster adds lexicomane, lexicomaniac, and lexiconista as words that refer to lovers of words, reading, and dictionaries.
Some people love to make up new words, but only recently did anyone make up
It’s a combination of lexis and “poiein,” which means to make or compose. So it means to make up or compose words. While it’s new and hasn’t become fully accepted, a word is called a neologism. It, too, is recent coinage. I don’t know about lexicalize, except that it’s legal in Scrabble.
For as long as people have been making up new words, it seems odd that no older, established word means quite the same thing.
Other words based on “logos” or “lexis” include
- logogriph: a word puzzle, such as an anagram
- logomachy: a dispute about the meaning of words, or a dispute carried on in words only
- logogram, or logograph: a written symbol that represents a spoken word but doesn’t express its pronunciation. Any numeral is a logogram. For example, 3 is pronounced “three” in English, “trois” in French, “drei” in German, and so on.
- logorrhea: excessive use of words
- lexicographer: someone who compiles dictionaries. But you knew that. How about
- lexiphanicism: using long words to impress other people
You may have come across sesquipedalian to describe long words, literally a foot and a half long. Or if that’s not enough, how about hippopotomonstrosesquipedalian?
If you write, eschew excessive sesquipedalian terminology. Your readers might find it inordinately incomprehensible.
By the way, “epos” is a Greek word that more specifically means “word.” It gives us the word epeolatry, or worship of words, but nothing else I can find.
A lover of books is a
Perhaps besides loving to read, a bibliophile loves bibliosmia, the aroma of a book. Someone who really devours books may be better described as a bibliophage.
You know that a bibliography is a list of books about a particular subject. Scholarly books have bibliographies at the end. So many books are themselves bibliographies that some scholars have compiled bibliographies of bibliographies.
One of my professors in graduate school said that one of his fond daydreams was to compile the first bibliography of bibliographies of bibliographies. It would take a real bibliognost, someone who knows a lot about books, to bring that off!
Some people don’t like certain books and ceremoniously burn or otherwise destroy them, a practice called biblioclasm, or perhaps libricide.
A bibliotaph protects his books from others. That’s the person who won’t let you borrow his books (or hers, to be politically correct)—possibly fearing that you’re a biblioklept and won’t give them back.
A seller of books, especially rare books, is a bibliopole.
Let’s leave behind words of such obvious derivation. Bibliopoles would probably love a chance to deal in incunabula, which are books printed before 1501. And they value princeps, a fancy name for first editions or first printings.
Before printing, and even in the early days of printing, a scribe might have rubricated a book, hand-colored elaborate capital letters or other decorations in red ink
People who read a lot may aspire to be
or seeking to read everything.
It seems to me I read about someone who fit that description. About two centuries ago, he broke into tears when he entered the Harvard University library and realized he’d never live long enough to read all the books.
(I can never find such nuggets of useless information when I decide to look for them. If anyone knows the story, please let us know in the comments.)
If you read in bed, you’re a
but what if you buy a lot of books, let them pile up, and don’t get around to reading them? The Japanese call it tsundoku. What a word picture! A tidal wave of unread books!
Our society loves trivia. Perhaps part of your tsundoku comes from buying the works of authors who write on unimportant topics, or in other words, authors who practice adoxography.
Except for that one Japanese word, everything I’ve mentioned so far comes from classical languages. After all, only scholars love books and words enough to make up words about them. But many people hate the way other people—especially bureaucrats—pile up pompous words to hide their meaning. No one needs to know Greek to complain about such
Texas Congressman Maury Maverick got tired of the pomposity of “officialese.” Near the end of the Second World War, he wrote a memo to ban gobbledygook from writing his committee would have to wade through. It included a mock threat: “Anyone using the words activation or implementation will be shot.” Perhaps I’ll explore that topic in another post.
Oh, and fun words like quockerwodger, too. It was a wooden puppet with strings. When someone pulled the strings, the toy’s limbs jerked. Just like a politician under someone else’s control. So while anyone still remembered the toy, they used the word as a political insult.
Lexicomaniac. Source unknown.
Floccinaucinihilipilification. OED entry. Photographer unknown.
British Library stacks. Some rights reserved by Steve Cadman.
Library reference section. Public domain from Wikimedia Commons