Acyrologia

Discuss word origins and meanings.
Post Reply

Acyrologia

Post by Bobinwales » Sun Jan 26, 2014 3:21 pm

I think I may have stumbled upon something.

I was introduced the the word ACYROLOGIA. I was told that it was the incorrect use of a word to make the speaker appear more knowledgeable. The only dictionary on One Look that carries the word is the one on my link. Even Wikipedia merely redirects to malapropism.

So, where has the word come from? Are we in a birth?
Post actions:
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: Acyrologia

Post by trolley » Sun Jan 26, 2014 8:02 pm

Excellent word. This will argument my vocabulary nicely.
Post actions:

Re: Acyrologia

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:24 am

At Google Books, after some rather desultory investigation I found the word in Vol III of The Works of Thomas Chatterton, published in 1803 some years after the death of the author of the works (20 November 1752 – 24 August 1770), an English poet and forger of pseudo-medieval poetry:
LETTER X.

From Chatterton to his Friend Mr. Wm. Smith.

INFALLIBLE DOCTOR,
Let this apologise for long silence. Your request would have been long since granted, but I know not what it is best to compose: a Hindicasyllabum carmen Hexastichon, Ogdastich, Tetrametrum or Septennarius. You must know I have been long troubled with a Poetical Cephalaphonia, for I no sooner begin an Acrostic, but I wander into a Threnodia. -- The poem ran thus: the first line an Acatalictos, the second, an Otislogia of the first; the third, an Acyrologia; the fourth, an Epanalepsis of the third; fifth, a Diatyposis of beauty; sixth, a Diaporesis of success; seventh, a Brachy Catalecton; eighth, an Ecphonesis of Explexis.
Presumably, such a sesquipedalian predicament would have been pretty exhausting; for a person with lesser (and less precocious) abilities than Mr Chatterton, it might even have been the prelude to a permanent epistolary silence.

I also found acyrologia in The Monthly Review or Literary Journal, September-December issue, 1820; and in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1771 edition, where the rather vague entry reads as follows:
ACYROLOGIA, fignifies an improper word, phrafe, or expreffion.
So it has been around for quite a while, but its usage appears to be rare enough (at least these days) that, as Bob says, it scarcely registers at OneLook. Nor does it appear in any of my print dictionaries. (Though that isn't necessarily very significant.)

In addition, I found quite a few other instances (Google Books currently returns 3,610 hits at my space/time coordinates, of which a number appear to relate to the same works but are referenced by Google in several different ways). Many of these occurrences are in scholarly works of relatively recent vintage (i.e. from around 1980 onwards).

Perhaps the oracle currently known as Ken, who I believe still has access to the OED, may be able to cast some light on the history of the word.
Post actions:

Re: Acyrologia

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:01 pm

Ecphonesis of Explexis was a good line but a bad king.
Post actions:

Re: Acyrologia

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:49 am

aaa
Gentlemen (you too Shelley), The first thing I noticed in my travels is that there are two spellings for the noun: acyrology and acyrologia. A Google search (at my space-time coordinates) produced 7300 and 3500 (~ 2:1) hits respectively and the OED does go with the headword acyrology.

OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY

ACYROLOGY noun (rare after the 17th century): Incorrect use of language.

Etymology: < post-classical Latin [[200-500 AD]] acyrologia incorrect use of language (from 4th century in grammarians) < Hellenistic Greek ἀκυρολογία < ancient Greek ἀ- a- prefix + κῦρος authority + λογία -logy combining form.
_________________________________

The OED provides quotes with dates ranging from 1550 to 1994. The following is a sampling:
<1577 “This vice or fault is called, Acyrologia: which is an vnproper speaking in forme and sense.”—Garden of Eloquence by H. Peacham, sig Dj>

1659 “There is no Tautologie, or twice re-iteration of the self same thing, no acurologie or impropriety, contradiction or absurdity, no hysteron-proteron, no disorder in the position of it in the Creed.”—in Letter from R. Smith to H. Hammond concise Creed (1684) by R. Smith in R. Chilswell, page 10>

<1839 “His work . . . was meant to be . . . a condensation of all the ‘logics’ and all the ‘ology's’; but, unfortunately, tautology and acyrology were the only ones thoroughly exemplified.”—Cheveley (edition 2) by Lady Rosina Bulwer Lytton, I. x. page 221>

<1844 “I wished . . . to bring my mother to a more specific declaration of her thoughts, freed from this species of acyrology which rendered them at least doubtful.”—Mem Muscovite by Lady Rosina Bulwer Lytton, II. xi. page 313>

<1994 “Óláfr's adaptation of Donatus's treatise is particularly significant in two of these cases, acyrology and amphibology.”—International Journal of Classical Tradition. 1, page 42>
I like the word, but its history doesn’t grab me. (>:)
______________________

Ken – January 27, 2014
Post actions:

Re: Acyrologia

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:05 am

Ken Greenwald wrote:Gentlemen (you too Shelley),
Shelley may protest as much as she likes, but I am convinced she is no gentleman.
Ken Greenwald wrote:I like the word, but its history doesn’t grab me. (>:)
Indeed... If only Ecphonesis of Explexis had been a better king!

(Thanks for the additional research, Ken. :-)
Post actions:

Re: Acyrologia

Post by Bobinwales » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:31 pm

Ken Greenwald wrote:I like the word, but its history doesn’t grab me.
Quite!

Thanks to all, I'm gratitudified.
Post actions:
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

End of topic.
Post Reply