On the Word Irenic


On the Word Irenic

I really like the word irenic because it appears to embody a paradox. Etymologically it is completely separate from the seeming cognate that makes up the first syllable and a half. Irenic and ire have nearly opposite meanings, and yet, the one word comprises 50% of the other. If you did not know the meaning and had no dictionary to hand and someone referred to some else as irenic, you might make a conjunction with splenitic, and thus conclude that the personality involved was prone to anger.

Trivial, I know, but the kinds of things that flutter through the mind of one who really, really loves the English Language. (Though there are days that you would be hard-pressed to tell it from the quality of the entries on this blog).

We should all strive to be irenic persons. Or perhaps ironic persons. (That was my second thought on seeing the word for the first time--someone had a typo!)

Irenic and ire, all the difference in the world from their Greek and Latin (respectively) roots. Sometimes it is good to let the roots show.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 7, 2003 12:48 PM.

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