Don’t look now, but the week is officially halfway over, folks, which means it’s time for Wacky Word Wednesday, a weekly celebration of some of the wackiest and most interesting words from around the world.
As we approach the holiday season, good eats and festive cheer also come with their fair share of jam-packed schedules and family reunions, among which you’re bound to come across the occasional and much-dreaded (dumDUM DUMM!) awkward family dinner.
In a frantic search to help you stave off the holiday awkwardness, we came across the following wacky word: deipnosophist.
The definition from TermWiki.com:
a person who is a master of dinner-table conversation
Like gyros and Plato, this word hails from Greece: deipnon means meal, and sophistai refers to a wise man. From sophistai, we also get the modern-day meaning of the word sophistry, which is the act of using specious, cleverly-stated arguments (sophisms) in an intentionally deceptive manner.
Research shows us that a third-century Greek author by the name of Athenaeus wrote a literary series called Deipnosophists, which is alternately translated into English as The Banquet of the Learned or The Gastronomers. (We totally prefer the second translation, by the way. Sounds like a bunch of space-bound stomachs.) Anthenaeus originally wrote this fictional piece as a fifteen-book series, of which some of the titles include Wine and Water, Enormous Ships, Worthless Philosophers, and Hedonism and Obesity. These books describe the conversations and discussions that ensued among the men who attended banquets held by a man named Laurentuis. (We’re not sure, but we suspect these discussions are the inspiration for the Kennedys and their animated dinner table discussions.)
This word also brings us back to that moment in time everybody can relate to: sitting around the dining table, palpably awkward, with nothing to be heard except for the clanking of silverware against plates and bowls and the grandfather clock ticking away forebodingly in the background. It’s moments like these when any conversation starter will do, even those (or especially those) of trickery and deceit.
So to help you out during any upcoming holiday events, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Peanut Butter Lover’s Month (admittedly, it’s difficult for deipnosophists to show off their mad conversational skills when their tongues are stuck to the roofs of their mouths), here are some “dinner-friendly” pieces of advice to keep in mind:
- Leave your cell phone on vibrate.
- Don’t talk with your mouth full!
- Always remember: just smile and nod.
- And of course, avoid talking about religion, money, and politics.
Anything else goes!
And remember, when worse comes to worst, there’s always the topic of Enormous Ships to fall back on! Eh, eh?
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