This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Nuts and Bolts: chrestomathy.

Now, Chrestomanci I know: he was the tall, dark, handsome and languidly masterful enchanter in Diana Wynne Jones' series of books (I very strongly recommend Charmed Life as a starting point).

But chrestomathy? Is a chrestomathy magical, too?

Well, it might be, if you're lucky.

A chrestomathy is a collection of short pieces of writing. They might be particularly well-written and used to teach a particular subject, or they might be a series of passages that show the development of a language or literary style.

The important thing for it to be a chrestomathy is that it's designed as a teaching aid, so a spell book might indeed be a chrestomathy if it was full of very elegantly-worded spells. 

Still, even if a chrestomathy included no spells at all then surely just having the word chrestomathy on the cover would tease the fingers and the mind. Surely no one could help but devour the contents of a chrestomathy.

In fact, you know something? I think I'd happily read a chrestomathy about drains.

File:Light painting in a storm drain, Brisbane (darkday).jpg
Light painting in a storm drain, Brisbane. Photo by darkday.

Word To Use Today: chrestomathy. This word comes from the Greek chrestomatheia, which means desire of learning, and before that from chrestos, useful, and manthano, learn.

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