Chrestomathy
Yet another voice in the cacophony.
Thursday, May 23 2019 @ 10:52 AM PDT
 Topics  
Books
Fiction
Food
Kitsch
Life
Movies
Music
Philosophy
Politics
Sports
Technology
Travel

 What's New  
STORIES
No new stories

COMMENTS last 48 hrs
No new comments

 Events  
There are no upcoming events

 User Functions  
Username:

Password:

Don't have an account yet? Sign up as a New User

 Other Stuff  
< ? bostonites # >
The Syndicate
GPG/PGP Key


 Chrestomathy   
 Author:  matt
 Dated:  Tuesday, November 11 2003 @ 12:38 PM PST
 Viewed:  823 times  
KitschI found this description to be far more amusing than the dry depiction that you'll find in your dictionary.

(from World Wide Words)

This word has been staring me in the face for years, as it forms part of the title of a book on my shelves: A Mencken Chrestomathy, a selection of the choicest writings of the American journalist and writer on language, the late H L Mencken. Other than that, you may have to search a bit before finding another example, since it is a word of singular shyness, venturing out only rarely from inside our dictionaries to slip itself on to the cover of a work here or there. It was formed and first used in Greek, from the words khrestos, useful, and mathein, to know, hence useful learning. Its most frequent sense these days is that of a selection of passages designed to help in learning a language, so you may find titles such as Chrestomathy of modern literary Uzbek or A Chrestomathy of Pre-Angkorian Khmer. When H L Mencken used it he claimed he did so in part to wrest it back from the linguists. To critics who argued that the word would not be understood he replied in splendid arrogance: “Thousands of excellent nouns, verbs and adjectives that have stood in every decent dictionary for years are still unfamiliar to such ignoramuses, and I do not solicit their patronage. Let them continue to recreate themselves with whodunits, and leave my vocabulary and me to my own customers, who have all been to school”.


Oddly enough, the implied Mencken reference had utterly escaped me until I saw this.



 What's Related  
  • World Wide Words
  • More by matt
  • More from Kitsch

  •  Story Options  
  • Mail Story to a Friend
  • Printable Story Format


  • Chrestomathy
    Authored by: Forrest on Wednesday, November 12 2003 @ 10:37 AM PST
    Holy shit. There's an "r" in there. I thought the site was named after the study of boobies!