Monday, March 28, 2011

Graphomania, n., a passion for writing

Gosh, I never knew there were so many names for the writing we authors do! I knew elegy was a long lament of things past from learning Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in A Churchyard.” I did not know that an epithalamium was a wedding song or poem in honor of a bride and groom nor that an ecologue was a pastoral poem about shepherds conversing. Doggerel, meaning an irregular rhythm of a loosely styled verse used for comic effect, was sort of familiar but I had no idea that a dithyramb was a speech or composition written in an inflated, enthusiastic or exalted style. I should have known this after listening to politicians whose bombastic, pompous and overly inflated language is often described as fustian. Jane Austin’s novels are of discriminating apercu (A pur SOO) of English society in the beginning of the 19th century, e.g., “an intuitive insight.”

Some of the many words related to writing are:

Sesquipedalian, adj. characterized by using overly long words

Prolix, adj, v. excessively wordy

Afflatus, n. a sudden rush of creative impulse, an inspiration

Adumbrate, v. to give a sketchy outline; foreshadow vaguely

Expatiate, v. to write or speak at length, elaborate

Prolix, adj. overly wordy; verbose, tedious

Variorum, n. a text that quotes several scholars often with varying conclusions

Apothegm (A puh Them), n. , a proverb, maxim, adage or aphorism

Epigram, n. —a short, witty poem

Apocrypha, n. writings of dubious authenticity, typically religious

Canard, n. fabricated or false report; unfounded story

Exemplum, n story demonstrating a moral point

Rubric, n. title heading or first letter often printed in red ink

Billet-doux (BIL lay do), n. love letter

McGuffin, also MacGuffin, n. what seems like the main plot but isn’t

Strophe (STROW FEE), n. stanza or verse of a poem

Leitmotif or leitmotiv (LIGHT mo TEEF), n. dominant, recurring theme or underlying pattern found in novels and other works of art

Roman a clef (row MAHN AH KLAY), n. novel in which real persons are represented under fictitious names

Solecism (SAH luk sih ZYHM), n. combination of words that construct a grammatically incorrect sentence

Longueur (LONE ghur), n. tedious, dull or lengthy passage as from a book

Bromidic, adj. lacking originality, trite, commonplace

Crib, n. a child's bed or a translation of writing from another language

Monograph, n. a written account of a single subject; a scholarly book on a limited area of learning

Topos, n. conventional theme in a literary composition

Bildungsroman, n. type of novel in which the main theme focuses on the formative years or spiritual education of one individual

Bathos, n. sudden transition form an elevated style to the commonplace in writing; overdone or insincere pathos; hackneyed quality, triteness

With thanks to The Bibliophile’s Dictionary by Miles Westley, Writer’s Digest Books, 2005, and Concise Oxford American Dictionary, 2006

WELCOME to Kathleen Dobbs and Elizabeth Brinton as regular contributors!


Jan Cline said...

I love these words! Who knew??

Nancy Owens Barnes said...

Thank you Jennifer. I always learn something new from your posts. Yay for graphomaniacs!


Graphomania. What a great word, Jennifer! I also like strophe,billet-doux and afflatus :)