≡ Menu

M-W’s word of the day : synca-wha?

Is this even ENGLISH? I get the Word of the Day emails from M-W.com. Usually, if I don’t know the word, I understand the definition. It’s very rare that the definition actually confuses me more. The etymology of the word is my last resort – in this case it’s even worse! These Merriam Webster wordies are WHACK, man.


The Word of the Day for September 28 is:
syncategorematic \sin-kat-uh-gor-uh-MAT-ik\ adjective
: forming a meaningful expression only in conjunction with a denotative expression (as a content word)
Example sentence:
“In any language, there will be what are called syncategorematic words, such as prepositions and articles,” explained Dr. Lewis.
See a map of “syncategorematic” in the Visual Thesaurus.
Did you know?
In ancient Greek logic, “katēgorēma” referred to something that was affirmed or denied about the subject in a proposition. For instance, in “the paper is white,” “whiteness” would be the “katēgorēma.” Seventeenth-century logicians extended this concept, which they called “categorem,” to cover the subject of the proposition as well. So, in the proposition “All men are mortal,” “mortality” is a categorem and so is “man.” But what about “all”? Words like “all” that signify quantity (as well as words that function as adverbs, prepositions, or conjunctions) are syncategoremata — that is, they are words that have meaning in propositions only when used in conjunction “with” other words. (“Syn-” means “with.”)