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Apr 11, 2022
This week’s theme
Eponyms

This week’s words
pyrrhonism
morphetic
Rothschild
roorback
Hercules

pyrrhonism
Pyrrho of Elis, 2nd century BCE
Photo: Zde / Wikimedia

Previous week’s theme
Words from chemistry
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

A name labels a person, an animal, or a place. A word labels things, ideas, and concepts. Sometimes there’s cross-pollination. People are named after ideas or things, for example Charity and Pepsi (for real!), and words are coined after people.

Words coined after people, we call them eponyms: from Greek epi- (upon) + -onym (name). The English language is chockful of them: boycott, dunce, and tawdry, to name a few.

This week we’ll bring you five eponyms that are not as common as the above examples. These eponyms are coined after people, real and fictional.

What eponyms have you coined, about yourself, your friends, colleagues, or family? Share below or email us at words@wordsmith.org.

Pyrrhonism

PRONUNCIATION:
(PIR-uh-niz-uhm)

MEANING:
noun: Extreme or absolute skepticism.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Pyrrho, a Greek philosopher, c. 360-270 BCE. Earliest documented use: 1603.

NOTES:
The philosopher and engineer Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950) once said, “There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking.” Pyrrhonism would fall in the second category. The Greek philosopher Pyrrho believed that it was impossible to be certain of any knowledge.

USAGE:
“Instead, [David Hume] recommends a more moderate or academic skepticism that tones down Pyrrhonism.”
James Fieser; David Hume; Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy; 2022.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Everyone, in some small sacred sanctuary of the self, is nuts. -Leo Rosten, author (11 Apr 1908-1997)

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