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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A Word A Day — gnomic

Good norning, Netizens...

March 07, 2013

Word of the Day

  • gnomic
  • audio pronunciation
  • \NOH-mik\


: characterized by aphorism
: given to the composition of aphoristic writing

Some critics have praised the young artist's gnomic utterances, while others argue that her sayings are simply pretentious rubbish.

"The film is grand but complex, canny and sincere.… If Spielberg were more intellectual or more gnomic in discussing his films, he might be regarded not as a mass-market wizard but as a cult director." — From a film review by Francine Stock in Prospect, January 24, 2013


A gnome is an aphorism—that is, an observation or sentiment reduced to the form of a saying. Gnomes are sometimes couched in metaphorical or figurative language, they are often quite clever, and they are always concise. We borrowed the word "gnome" in the 16th century from the Greeks, who based their "gnōmē" on the verb "gignōskein," meaning "to know." (That other "gnome"—the dwarf of folklore—comes from New Latin and is unrelated to today's word.) We began using "gnomic," the adjective form of "gnome," in the early 19th century. It describes a style of writing (or sometimes speech) characterized by pithy phrases, which are often terse to the point of mysteriousness.

From Merriam-Webster Online at



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