gnomic

adjective
gno·​mic | \ ˈnō-mik How to pronounce gnomic (audio) \

Definition of gnomic

1 : characterized by aphorism gnomic utterances
2 : given to the composition of gnomic writing a gnomic poet

Did you know?

A gnome is an aphorism—that is, an observation or sentiment reduced to the form of a saying. Gnomes are sometimes couched in metaphorical or figurative language, they are often quite clever, and they are always concise. We borrowed the word gnome in the 16th century from the Greeks, who based their gnome on the verb gignōskein, meaning "to know." (The other gnome—referring to the dwarf of folklore—comes from New Latin and is unrelated to the aphoristic gnome.) We began using gnomic, the adjective form of gnome, in the late 18th century. It describes a style of writing, or sometimes speech, characterized by pithy phrases, which are often terse to the point of mysteriousness.

Examples of gnomic in a Sentence

He made gnomic utterances concerning death.
Recent Examples on the Web Pop Smoke was a gnomic figure with a rich, booming voice; Fivio is less enigmatic but more entertaining, a charismatic and sometimes witty host who wants to keep everyone happy. Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker, 18 Apr. 2022 Samuel Greenberg, the doomed, gnomic poet-naif Crane describes, was already six years dead at the time of the letter’s writing, having succumbed to tuberculosis in 1917, at the age of twenty-three, in the Manhattan State Hospital on Wards Island. Dustin Illingworth, The New York Review of Books, 14 May 2020 Samuel Greenberg, the doomed, gnomic poet-naif Crane describes, was already six years dead at the time of the letter’s writing, having succumbed to tuberculosis in 1917, at the age of twenty-three, in the Manhattan State Hospital on Wards Island. Dustin Illingworth, The New York Review of Books, 14 May 2020 Like Fitzgerald, Levy has a gift for the pithy, annihilating moment of gnomic insight. Kirsten Denker, The New Republic, 31 Aug. 2021 The style is Delphic: cautious; obfuscatory; verbose (or the opposite, gnomic); vague; artfully ambiguous; subtle; fascinating. George Calhoun, Forbes, 10 May 2021 There’s Duncan’s assistant, Jimmy Jellico, who is mentally challenged but who comes out with astonishing gnomic splinters of wisdom. Joanne Kaufman, WSJ, 23 Apr. 2021 Some of the passages closely echo Oyler’s riffs on contemporary foibles, except written in gnomic fragments. Kate Knibbs, Wired, 1 Feb. 2021 Coleman had a gnomic way with words himself, however. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, 5 June 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gnomic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of gnomic

1784, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gnomic

borrowed from Greek gnōmikós "dealing in maxims, didactic," from gnṓmē "maxim" + -ikos -ic entry 1 — more at gnome entry 1

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Dictionary Entries Near gnomic

gnome owl

gnomic

gnomologic

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Cite this Entry

“Gnomic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gnomic. Accessed 3 Jul. 2022.

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