Odd Words: Arithmancy

ArithmancyPage 14 of The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words: Revised Edition was hard. It wasn’t that there weren’t a lot of words that I didn’t know. But they were so obscure that they were hard to research. That was even true of today’s word: arithmancy.

I really wanted to go with “apposite” (an easy one) today. But that would require breaking the rules, since I am very much aware of the word. But I would never use it. I think it confuses people in conversation. Most think you have mispronounced “opposite.” And that isn’t apposite at all!

Beyond Arithmancy

One really cool word was “arcifinious.” It is a word that describes a location with geographical boundary that also serves as a defense. So, for example, a country might be acrifinious because of a mountain range or a river. Then there is a similar word that brings war to mind, “armipotent.” It means being powerful in battle. Neither of these words — nor a few others — are in regular online dictionaries.

But here is arithmancy:

Ar·ith·man·cy  noun  ar-‘ith-man-sē\

1. prophecy by numbers, especially the number of letters in names.

Date: unknown to me.

Origin: Greek, αριθμός (number) and μαντεία (divination).

Example: It’s almost impossible to find a reasonable sentence with the word “arithmancy” in it since it was used in the Harry Potter books. —Frank Moraes

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “Odd Words: Arithmancy

    • Bwahahaha! My evil plan worked!

      Actually, I had planned to talk quite a bit about the book series. But a friend came over, and between talking and drinking, it ended up being what it is.

      But this is the reason the word is hard to research. But again: friend, talk, beer — these were the real killers.

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