Word of the Day : November 22, 2010


noun kreh-STAH-muh-thee


1 : a selection of passages used to help learn a language

2 : a volume of selected passages or stories of an author

Did You Know?

"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."


The chrestomathy contains all of the author's short stories, along with a selection of essays on a wealth of subjects.

"Wearing his best poker face (and no doubt having just put down a George Orwell chrestomathy), Mr. Rendell accused the Republican Party of sabotaging President Obama's efforts to revive the American economy and for purely political reasons." -- From an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, August 17, 2010

Quick Quiz

What descendent of "manthanein" means "a person of encyclopedic learning"? The answer is ...


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