having the ability to shape diverse elements or concepts into a unified whole.
Esemplastic “having the ability to shape diverse elements into a unified whole” is a coinage by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, author of such works as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Coleridge, inspired by German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling’s own coinage Ineinsbildung (literally “into one formation”), based esemplastic on three Ancient Greek elements. The first of these is es-, a variant of eis- “into, to”; compare the name of the city Istanbul, which emerged as a corruption of the Byzantine Greek phrase eis tḕn Pólin “to the City.” The second of these elements is (h)én, the neuter of heîs “one,” which has largely been replaced in English by mono-, from Ancient Greek mónos “alone.” The final element is plastikós “moldable,” from plássein “to form.” Esemplastic was first recorded in English in the 1810s.
He was really all about the work, every single thing he saw he processed as potential fodder for the project. He was one of these totally…esemplastic kind of guys—y’know, he had a very synthetic, very practical and resourceful kind of sensibility, always about cobbling together the most disparate, miscellaneous things.
[A]n esemplastic, eclectic, deep and complex mind such as we can ascribe to [Wole] Soyinka, … must contradict himself occasionally. In fact, holding on to an opinion even after one has found reason to change it is not a virtue. It is a vice that hints at bigotry, a disease of the mind symptomized by its rigidity.
designating or pertaining to a pictographic script, particularly that of the ancient Egyptians, in which many of the symbols are conventionalized, recognizable pictures of the things represented.
Hieroglyphic “designating or pertaining to a pictographic script” derives by way of Late Latin hieroglyphicus from Ancient Greek hieroglyphikós “pertaining to sacred writing,” which is a compound of hierós “holy, sacred” and glyphḗ “carving.” The adjective hierós is likely a cognate of Latin īra “anger” (compare irate and irascible); both appear to come from a Proto-Indo-European root that indicates words of passion. The noun glyphḗ derives from the verb glýphein “to carve, hollow out,” which has a few unexpected cognates in English. Grimm’s law, which we learned about from our recent Words of the Day cordiform, togated, and transcendental, states that Ancient Greek g often corresponds to English c and k. With this in mind, compare Ancient Greek glýphein with English cleave, cleft, and cloven, all three of which involve splitting something apart. Hieroglyphic was first recorded in English circa 1580.
The ancient language also offers clues as to how … iron was perceived by Egyptians–and that they knew meteorites were a source of the metal …. From the beginning of the 19th Dynasty (approximately 1295 BC) a new hieroglyphic word for iron appeared: “bi-A-n-pt,” which literally translates as “iron from the sky.” Why this new word appears in this exact form at this time is unknown but it was later applied to all metallic iron. An obvious explanation for the sudden emergence of the word would be a major impact event or large shower of meteorites.
Thousands of years after the Egyptians wrote the first hieroglyphic scripts, the spread of emoji seems to be bringing us back to a picture-based writing system. That may look like a retrograde step to a more primitive, childish form of communication. But it isn’t, because both hieroglyphs and emoji are far more powerful than they appear.
a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation.
Misnomer “a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation” comes by way of Middle English and Anglo-French from the Middle French verb mesnomer “to misname,” which is a compound of the prefix mes- “not” and the verb nomer “to name.” Despite the common misconception that mes- is the French cognate of Spanish menos- and derives from Latin minus “smaller,” it is likely that mes- is in fact of Germanic origin and related to the English verb miss “to fail to hit or reach.” The verb nomer comes from Latin nōmināre “to name, call by name,” which is also the source of denominator, nominate, and even renown. Misnomer was first recorded in English in the mid-15th century.
It’s a well-known fact among entomologists that whoever first named the millipede was being a touch dramatic. The name means “thousand-footed,” but no millipede has a thousand feet. At least, that was true until now. A discovery deep below the surface of Australia has shown that “millipede” isn’t always a misnomer. Researchers found a new species that can have more than 1,300 legs.
Ghost towns tend to start as boomtowns, and contemporary China more than likely has more boomtowns than any other country in history …. This rapid growth has resulted in [a] peculiar side effect: ghost cities, everywhere. Although the term “ghost town” is technically a misnomer in this case. A ghost town is a place that has become economically defunct—in other words, a place that has died. What China has is the opposite of ghost towns: It has new cities that have yet to come to life.
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