Word of the Day : November 20, 2010

alterity

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noun awl-TAIR-uh-tee

Definition

: otherness; specifically : the quality or state of being radically alien to the conscious self or a particular cultural orientation

Did You Know?

You’re probably familiar with the verb "alter," meaning "to make or become different," and you may not be surprised to learn that it is a relative of "alterity." Both words descend from the Latin word "alter," meaning "other (of two)." That Latin "alter," in turn, comes from a prehistoric Indo-European word that is also an ancestor of our "alien." "Alterity" has been used in English as a fancy word for "otherness" ("the state of being other") since at least 1642. It remains less common than "otherness" and tends to turn up most often in the context of literary theory or cultural studies.


Examples

The novel focuses on the alterity experienced by adolescents, exploring how they both value and fear it.

"This is the song which continues the theme of the relation between the identity and the alterity; it is not about a relationship with the self -- it is about the relationship with the world." -- From a article by Iulia Alexandra Nedea in the webzine PopMatters, November 4, 2010



Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "psephology," our featured word from November 2, 2010? The answer is ...


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