Tuesday, February 23, 2010


A hapax legomenon is a word that appears only once in a document, a corpus, or the entire written record of a particular language. For example, Shakespeare uses honorificabilitudinitatibus only once, making it a hapax legomenon of his corpus. They are an interesting thing, particularly since they can be difficult to define if they are the kind that only appears once, period. But that is not the point I would like to make here. Once I ran across honorificabilitudinitatibus, I of course wanted to know what it meant. It means "the state of being able to achieve honors." But that is not the point either. The point is that, in the process of looking it up, I happened to discover that James Joyce used it in Ulysses. In honor of this literary feat I officially declare James Joyce to be obnoxabilitudinitatibus, which means, "the state of being able to achieve every subsequent writer in English hating your guts."

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