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psephology (see-FOL-uh-jee) noun

The study of elections and voting, and their statistical analysis in the prediction of results.

[From Greek psephos (pebble) + -logy (study). Why a pebble in a word for predicting election results? That's because ancient Greeks used pebbles as ballots to register votes in elections. In fact, that's where the word ballot comes from. A ballot is, literally, a little ball (diminutive of Italian balla). Psephocracy is the word for a government decided by election.]

"The science of interpreting elections has a fancy name: psephology. A shorter, simpler and more accurate title for much election analysis is: fiction." David S. Broder; Psephology Finds Only Voter Indifference; Austin American Statesman (Texas); Sep 16, 1989.

"In fact, with the exception of the foreign film and documentary categories, chosen by more elite committees, each is a postal vote of the 5,600-strong membership, a vote superintended by PricewaterhouseCoopers, though voting majority and turnout records are not disclosed. There is no such thing as psephology on Oscar night." Peter Bradshaw; Oscars 2003: This Hypnotic Spectacle; The Guardian (London, UK); Mar 21, 2003.

This week's theme: words related to elections.


In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists. -Eric Hoffer, philosopher and author (1902-1983)

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