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  • Paul Anthony Jones

Philarchaist


This week, after months of tense negotiations, the Brexit campaign finally had a reason to succeed: it was confirmed that after leaving the EU, Britons everywhere will have their “iconic” blue passports back. Ignore the fact that we could have made them blue even if we had remained a member of the EU, of course. And that the original, iconic blue passport was actually black. And, of course, that we’ve lost the freedom to travel and work frictionlessly across 27 countries. But, hey. Blue passports.

In entirely unrelated news, HH tweeted the word philarchaist on Friday—defined as “someone who prefers older versions of things to their modern equivalents”. And just in time for Christmas, we’re making it this week’s Word of the Week.

Philarchaist is a word we owe to the seventeenth century Scottish writer and translator Sir Thomas Urquhart, who introduced it in his 1652 work The Jewel, or “Ekskybalauron”. It’s very much Urquhart’s word: the Oxford English Dictionary have no other independent record of its use outside of his writings (making it a hapax legomenon, no less).

The phil– of philarchaist comes from the Greek philos, meaning “lover”, “beloved” or “friendship”, which will be familiar to English speakers from words like philosophy (literally “a lover of learning”), anglophile (a lover of all things English) and oenophile (a wine connoisseur). At the opposite end of the word, the “arch” of philarchaist comes from the Greek arkhaios, meaning “ancient” or “primal”.

Put together, that makes a philarchaist literally a lover of all things ancient. Which may or may not include blue passports...

#history #Britishhistory #Greek

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