Results for “thomas browne”
3 found

Sir Thomas Browne’s successful and failed neologisms

Words he successfully introduced into the English language:





According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Browne ranks 25th for the number of new words introduced into English, ahead of both Milton and Spenser.

Failed attempts:

tollutation [ambling]

axungious [lard-like]

deuteroscopy [the business of taking a second look]


I would someday like to read a Big Data paper on what predicts which neologisms will fail.  In any case, that information is from Hugh Aldersey-Williams’s new book The Adventures of Sir Thomas Browne in the 21st Century, for fans of Browne only but yes I am one.

No, this is neither Bryan Caplan nor Robin Hanson

It’s Sir Thomas Browne, one of my favorite writers I might add, circa 1672:

Again, Their individual imperfections being great, they are moreover enlarged by their aggregation; and being erroneous in their single numbers, once hudled together, they will be Error it self. For being a confusion of knaves and fools, and a farraginous concurrence of all conditions, tempers, sexes, and ages; it is but natural if their determinations be monstrous, and many waies inconsistent with Truth. And therefore wise men have alwaies applauded their own judgment, in the contradiction of that of the People; and their soberest adversaries, have ever afforded them the stile of fools and mad men; and, to speak impartially, their actions have made good these Epithets.

You’ll find the full passage here.  The point resembles Bryan but there is something about the spirit which reminds me more of Robin.  It’s one of my favorite pastimes to find passages in early texts which in some way presage Robin Hanson; this means having to reread Gulliver’s Travels every now and then.  By the way, the Burial Urn and the Garden of Cyrus are probably Browne’s most compelling works.