Odd Words: Analects

2008 Summer Olympics - AnalectsOnward to page ten of The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words: Revised Edition! There were a number of good words on this page. But I picked the very first one: analects.

But first, let’s take a quick look at some of the other words. There was “anamnesis.” This is memories of a past life. Like I remember when I was Mary Wollstonecraft, and just as I finished A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, I thought, “They’re only going to remember Tommy Paine!” There was also “anchorite,” which is a religious recluse. On seeing it, I knew what “androcracy” meant. But I don’t remember ever seeing it. Why would we need it? It’s like a fish needing a word for water. There’s also “anechoic,” which is something that is very important in building stadiums and such. There were also some medical words, which I would describe, but I just can’t stop yawning.


This is another literary word, which does not make me yawn. Other than being a word that I have a hard time imagining ever needing, it’s interesting in that it is almost always used as a plural. “Analect” is also a word. But it is almost never used. I assume that this is because one would just use the word “quotation.” Oh my! Did I just spoil the surprise? Well, read on anyway.

Here’s the definition of “analects”:

An·a·lects  noun  \a’-nə-lek(t)s\

1. selected passages or extracts from the writings of one or more authors.

Date: it really depends (circa 15th century).

Origin: this one is bizarre. It is Middle English. But it comes from a Latin word that comes from a Greek word: ανάλεκτα, which means “a group of things brought together.”

Example: “Self-improvement to bring peace to others,” from the Analects of Confucius of the Ancient China, is the quote I live by.Yoo Jeong-bok

And just because of the assonance, I thought of this song:

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