17 Aug

The New York Times’ excellent grammar-nerd blog, ‘After Deadline’, recently spilled the beans on the words most frequently looked up on These words included ‘president’, ‘America’, and ‘religion’.

JUST KIDDING! Of course the list featured some real head-scratchers.

So how many do you know – and I mean properly know, not just ‘I kind of think I know what that might kind of mean, maybe’?

NYT word list - a boggle board come to life

By the way, the word at the top of the list, ‘panegyric’, was only used in one article but had a total of 582 look-ups. So what the hell is a ‘panegyric’? According to the dictionary built into the NYT site, it means:

  1. A formal eulogistic composition intended as a public compliment
  2. Elaborate praise or laudation; an encomium

So basically it’s a formal expression of approval.

Interestingly, when I searched the NYTimes site for the word, I could only find one use – and it was in a letter penned by a Stu Freeman of Brooklyn, regarding an article on Miranda July:

“The most honest, uninhibited filmmaker of our time”? For heaven’s sake, she has made two features, one of which hasn’t been released yet, and she’s the subject of a Times Magazine cover story cum panegyric. Have you guys seen my nephew’s bar mitzvah video? Talk about genius!’

Well, too bad, Stu. I like her.


4 Responses to “Panegyric”

  1. aims August 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Blasphemy? Jesus Christ …

  2. Nae August 20, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

    Thanks to one of your earlier posts I not only know the definition of ‘inchoate’ (ranked 17) I can pronounce it too!
    As for the rest of them… I could use a lot of them in correct context in a sentence but a specific meaning would be beyond me. Not surprising, since – as you like to point out – I can’t even clearly direct people to items in our kitchen.

    • literatechicken August 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

      Well, get ready, because I’m going to give you pop quizzes on the meanings. You’ll be a walking dictionary in no time!

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