Word of the Day : November 6, 2017


adjective ess-em-PLASS-tik


: shaping or having the power to shape disparate things into a unified whole

Did You Know?

"Unusual and new-coined words are, doubtless, an evil; but vagueness, confusion, and imperfect conveyance of our thoughts, are a far greater," wrote English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Biographia Literaria, 1817. True to form, in that same work, he assembled esemplastic by melding the Greek phrase es hen, meaning "into one," with plastic to fulfill his need for a word that accurately described the imagination's ability to shape disparate experiences into a unified whole (e.g., the poet's imaginative ability to communicate a variety of images, sensations, emotions, and experiences in the unifying framework of a poem). The verb intensify was another word that Coleridge was compelled to mint while writing Biographia.


"Art achieves its impact from something Samuel Taylor Coleridge called its esemplastic power, the ability to make sense out of chaos, to 'shape into one' the many truths around us." — Teresa Jordan, The Year of Living Virtuously: Weekends Off, 2014 

"The prison walls of self had closed entirely round him; he was walled completely by the esemplastic power of his imagination…." — Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, 1929

Test Your Vocabulary

Fill in the blanks to complete an adjective that means "formed by the collection of units or particles into a body, mass, or amount": a _ _ r _ g _ _ e.



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