Word of the Day : September 18, 2017

amanuensis

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noun uh-man-yuh-WEN-sis

Definition

: one employed to write from dictation or to copy manuscript

Did You Know?

In Latin, the phrase servus a manu translates loosely as "slave with secretarial duties." (The noun manu, meaning "hand," gave us words such as manuscript, which originally referred to a document written or typed by hand.) In the 17th century the second part of this phrase was borrowed into English to create amanuensis, a word for a person who is employed (willingly) to do the important but sometimes menial work of transcribing the words of another. While other quaint words, such as scribe or scrivener, might have similarly described the functions of such a person in the past, these days we're likely to call him or her a secretary or an administrative assistant.


Examples

"He then proceeded in his investigation, dictating, as he went on, the import of the questions and answers to the amanuensis, by whom it was written down." — Sir Walter Scott, Waverley, 1814

"In this version of the myth, Holmes is a real-world character whose exploits were rendered in print by his sidekick and amanuensis Dr. Watson, who's long since dead." — Marc Mohan, The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 17 July 2015



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