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Words that aren't what they appear to be.

Most of the time, we can figure out a newly-encountered word by context or by its constituent parts. Take the word Egyptology. Even if you have never heard of the word, you can guess that it has something to do with Egypt and you'd not be too far off: the word means the study of Egyptian antiquities.

But there are times when our assumptions fall flat, as in today's word. Given how much parisology is going around these days, it's surprising this word hasn't been more in circulation. The only examples I could find were where the word was mentioned in a glossary. It's about time we put this good word to some real use.

You don't have to write an epic to be able to make use of this word. Maybe you can employ it in a letter to the editor to your local newspaper, perhaps in your company newsletter, or in an article for a magazine. Ideally, the meaning of the word would be clear from the context without the need to explain it. Send your citations to the email address below. The author of the best example during the next month gets an autographed copy of my new book "Another Word A Day".

parisology (pa-ri-SOL-uh-jee) noun

The use of equivocal or ambiguous language.

[From Ancient Greek parisos (almost equal, balanced) + logos (word).]

-Anu Garg garg AT wordsmith.org

PS: Don't forget the global virtual booksigning of "Another Word A Day" tomorrow, Nov 1. It runs for 12 hours (8-8 PM Pacific, GMT -8) to make sure readers in all time zones can participate: https://wordsmith.org/virtual

Come get a virtual bookplate inscribed, chat, play words games, and have fun!


The power to command frequently causes failure to think. -Barbara Tuchman, author and historian (1912-1989)

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