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holophrastic (hol-uh-FRAS-tik) adjective

1. Expressing a sentence in one word, for example, "Go."

2. Expressing complex ideas in a single word, as in some Inuit languages. Also polysynthetic.

[From Greek Holo- (whole) + Greek phrastikos, from phrazein (to speak).]

"Despite this mild heritage, Thomson sells packages easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Thomson is holophrastic." Trader Horn, Travel: Agents of Change, The Guardian (London), Sep 17, 1994.

"It's interesting that while Carmen never tells Jose that she loves him, the words that one hears continually -- almost as if they were a verbal tic -- from him are `Je t'aime' or `Je t'adore.' A linguist might call such expressions holophrastic -- their individual components come together as one -- and French pronunciation emphasizes the merging of these words." Stephen Wigler, Carmen Puts Male Nightmare Into Music, The Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), Oct 7, 1990.

This week's theme: words about words.


I will not play at tug o' war. / I'd rather play at hug o' war, / Where everyone hugs instead of tugs. -Shel Silverstein, writer (1930-1999)

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