Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: psephology \see-FAH-luh-jee\

psephology \see-FAH-luh-jee\


: the scientific study of elections

Erin is a political science major with a particular interest in psephology.

"To help voters make up their minds, this issue contains a 20-page briefing on personality, policy and psephology." — From an article in The Economist, April 10, 2010

"Psephology" is from the Greek word "psēphos," meaning "pebble." (One relative of "psephology" is "psephomancy," meaning "divination by pebbles.") "Psephology" merited election as the name for the work of analysts of elections, or psephologists, because pebbles were used by the ancient Greeks in voting. Similarly, the word "ballot" was an excellent choice for a means of voting since it is derived from "balla," the Italian word for "ball," and Italians placed balls in a container to cast votes.

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