Wiz, While we are here I might as well discuss the term’s definitions and origin a bit further.
INKHORN TERM or WORD: 1) a 16th century expression for a pedantic or recherché word, which showed signs of having been labored over; affectedly erudite language 2) a word or expression used only in academic writing; a learned, literary, or bookish term 3) an obscure, pedantic word borrowed from another language and especially a dubious borrowing or hybrid from classical Greek or Latin; an erudite neologism; an AUREATE WORD (a floridly abstruse Latinate word).
The ‘inkhorn’ was the small portable receptacle used to hold writing ink, originally made of horn but later also of wood, or metal, which pedants and pedagogues carried with them. It symbolizes pedantry and affected erudition in this expression as well as in TO SMELL OF THE INKHORN ‘to be pedantic.’ The expression, now archaic’ dates from at least 1543
<1543 “Soche are your YNKEHORNE termes.”—‘ Yet a Course at the Romyshe Foxe’ by BALE, page 59b>
<1583 “Except you would coin such ridiculous INKHORN terms, as you do in the New Testament, ‘azymes,’ ‘prepuce,’ ‘neophyte’ . . ..and such like.”—‘A Defense of the Sincere and True Translations of the Holy Scriptures into the English Tongue’ (1843) by Fluke, iii. page 207>
<1589 “Irrevocable, irradiation, depopulation and such like, . . . which . . . were long time despised for INKEHORNE termes.”—‘The Art of English Poesy (Abridged), II. xii, page 130>
<1589 “Wherefore thoughe he had done it of an INK HORNE desire to be eloquent.”—‘Menaphon’ (Abridged) by Greene, page 51>
<1964 “Despite its well-known flaws—its prejudices . . .; its pedantry . . .; and its inclusion of outlandish INKHORN WORDS . . . the publication of Johnson’s Dictionary [[Dr. Samuel, 1755]] represented a turning point in the history of the English language.”—‘The Treasure of Our Tongue’ by Lincoln Barnett>
(Oxford English Dictionary, Brewer’s and Oxford Dictionaries of Phrase and Fable
, Picturesque Expressions
by Urdang, Gramb’s Word’s About Words
Ken – November 26, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)