chres·​tom·​a·​thy | \ kre-ˈstä-mə-thē How to pronounce chrestomathy (audio) \
plural chrestomathies

Definition of chrestomathy

1 : a selection of passages used to help learn a language
2 : a volume of selected passages or stories of an author

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Provided that nothing like useful knowledge could be gained from them, provided they were all story and no reflection, she had never any objection to books at all. Jane Austen’s Catherine in Northanger Abbey, whose aversion to learning is pretty well summed up in the preceding sentence, would likely object to a chrestomathy that turned out to be a compilation of excerpts from ancient philosophical writings. She would probably be oblivious of, and indifferent to, the fact that the Greeks had the usefulness of knowledge in mind when they created chrestomathy from their adjective chrēstos, which means "useful," and the verb manthanein, which means "to learn."

First Known Use of chrestomathy

1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for chrestomathy

New Latin chrestomathia, from Greek chrēstomatheia, from chrēstos useful + manthanein to learn — more at mathematical

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The first known use of chrestomathy was in 1832

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Cite this Entry

“Chrestomathy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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