Lauren Sperber

meta-words‘s A.Word.A.Day e-newsletter has had some awesome themes lately. First, there was words from the Irish in honor of Bloomsday, and this week they sent out five meta-words — words describing words and language — along with this great quote from John Locke:

So difficult it is to show the various meanings and imperfections of words when we have nothing else but words to do it with.

words by feuillu
“WORDS” by flickr user feuillu

You tell ’em, Locke. And a few of the words we use in an attempt to show those meanings and imperfections:

grammatolatry (gram-uh-TOL-uh-tree): The worship of words: Regard for the letter while ignoring the spirit of something.

catachresis (kat-uh-KREE-sis): The misuse of words.

parapraxis (par-uh-PRAK-sis): A slip of the tongue (or pen) that reveals the unconscious mind.

lingua franca (LING-gwuh FRANGK-uh): A language that is widely used by speakers of different languages to communicate with one another.

orthoepy (or-THO-uh-pee, OR-tho-ep-ee): 1) Study of the pronunciation of words. 2) Customary pronunciation of a language.

Some other great meta-words from Wordie user John‘s list of Word Words:

metathesis (muh-TATH-uh-sis): A linguistic process of transposition of sounds or syllables within a word or words within a sentence.

orthography (awr-THOG-ruh-fee): A method of representing the sounds of a language by written or printed symbols.

verbum dicendi: A word that expresses speech, introduces a quotation, or marks a transition to speech which may be considered non-standard.

onomatomania: Obsession with a particular word which the person uses repeatedly or which intrudes into consciousness. [ed. note: A year ago, I commented on the wordie page for onomatomania that I have this condition for kenspeckle.]

And even more meta-words from Wordie user alguien‘s list Words About Words:

hyperbaton: Reversal of normal word order.

chiasmus: Inversion in the second of two parallel phrases.

aposiopesis: Breaking off in the middle of a sentence.

zeugma: Use of a word to govern two or more words though appropriate to only one.

polyptoton: Repetition of a word in a different case or inflection in the same sentence.

tmesis: Separation of a word into two parts with other words occurring between them.