Saturday, January 19, 2008

Vocabulary Lesson

Today's word, courtesy of the New York Review of Books: chiliastic.

It's nothing to do with superb Texas spicy beef dishes, and it's not pronounced that way (it's "kill-ee-as-tik"). It actually means "millenarian," or pertaining to the belief Christ will return to rule for a thousand years.

Etymologically, it's Greek, which you can see if you spell it more phonetically--it comes from khilioi ("a thousand")--the same root we use for "kilometer."

I don't know when you'd use this word, but I liked it and wanted to share.

1 comment:

Gary Lee Phillips said...

As a long time student of the Greek language, I delight in words like this. As for when you'd actually use it, the answer is probably not. Except for a tiny minority of us, people don't seem to appreciate classicisms the way they did a century ago. In fact, they become downright hostile about them. (Editors too, in many cases.)

Even so, I did wonder back at new year's 2000 whether we were about to experience a chiliasm, but it just didn't turn out that way.