Monday, May 14, 2007

Word of the Day: Inkhorn

(Courtesy of Merriam-Webster)

inkhorn \INK-horn\ adjective

: ostentatiously learned : pedantic

Example sentence:
The professor peppered his lectures with inkhorn terms of pseudo-Latin and Greek, a practice he felt essential to instilling in his students the proper respect for his knowledge.

Picture an ancient scribe, pen in hand, a small ink bottle made from an animal's horn strapped to his belt, ready to record the great events of history. In 14th-century England, such ink bottles were dubbed (not surprisingly) "inkhorns." During the Renaissance, learned writers often borrowed words from Latin and Greek, eschewing vulgar English alternatives. But in the 16th century, some scholars argued for the use of native terms over Latinate forms, and a lively intellectual debate over the merits of each began. Those who favored English branded what they considered ostentatious Latinisms "inkhorn terms" after the bottles carried by scholars, and since then we have used "inkhorn" as an adjective for pretentious language.

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