Thursday, November 22, 2007


Finally! A word from DD that I couldn't resist! So, in honor of Thanksgiving, we have:

Deipnosophist. Well, clearly, this word comes from the Greek "deipnon" for "meal" and "sophos" for "clever or wise". A "sophiste" then was a clever or wise man, who in ancient Greece was paid to give instruction. The term was derogatory as their arguments we often specious. This contextual meaning was retained in the idea that a deipnosophist was good at table talk, which carries with it some connotation of worthlesness or insignificance. The word was first used c. 200 AD as a title of a work by Athanaios, a Greek rhetorician and grammarian, Deipnosophiste, as it presented a first person account of a banquet and the conversation which occurred on a range of subjects from the dishes to literary issues to points of grammar and the esoteric. Then, apparently, the word wasn't used again until c. 1650 (at least it was past the Dark Ages!), as one who is skilled in the affairs of a kitchen, where the meal occurred, to one who adept at table talk, where the meal really occurs, since there is no further presumption that the meal is eaten in the kitchen.

Ok, so once we understand the evolution of the word, and that it derives from a partially derogatory root, usage is fairly straightforward. Her husband was a brilliant deipnosophist, able to engage in polite chit chat at any business lunch. Hopefully, I will not be accused of being merely a deipnosophist at the holiday feast, but remembered for something useful I contributed to the discussion. I will probably never have occasion to determine if Plaintiff's counsel could have been a deipnosophist, since I find his company barely tolerable just in court.

May you all be better than a deipnosophist today--Happy Thanksgiving!

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