euphuism

noun

eu·​phu·​ism ˈyü-fyə-ˌwi-zəm How to pronounce euphuism (audio)
-fyü-ˌi-
1
: an elegant Elizabethan literary style marked by excessive use of balance, antithesis, and alliteration and by frequent use of similes drawn from mythology and nature
2
: artificial elegance of language
euphuist
ˈyü-fyə-wist How to pronounce euphuism (audio)
-fyü-ist
noun
euphuistic adjective
euphuistically adverb

Did you know?

Nowadays, someone who uses euphuism might be accused of linguistic excess and affectation, but euphuism hasn't always had a negative connotation. When John Lyly employed this verbose form of rhetoric in his prose works Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit (1578) and Euphues and His England (1580), it was a style that appealed to many of his contemporaries. Euphuism comes from the name of the character Euphues, whom Lyly described as a "young gallante, of more wit than wealth, and yet of more wealth than wisdome." The name was probably inspired by a Greek word meaning "witty." The term euphuism came into being to refer to Lyly's (and other writers') style a dozen or so years after his works appeared.

Word History

Etymology

Euphues, character in prose romances by John Lyly

First Known Use

1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of euphuism was in 1592

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Dictionary Entries Near euphuism

Cite this Entry

“Euphuism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/euphuism. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

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