WBW #69

polyptoton (plural polyptota)

ORIGIN: Late Latin, from Greek polyptōton, neuter of polyptōtos using many cases of the same word, from poly- + ptōtos (from piptein to fall, influenced in meaning by Greek ptōsis case)

DEFINITION: the rhetorical repetition of a word in a different case, inflection, or voice in the same sentence

SENTENCE: The most common example I’ve seen of polyptoton in English is Tennyson’s “my own heart’s heart, and my ownest own.”

WHY IT’S INTERESTING: I happen to like words that originated from Greek, and this is no exception. The word also has a slightly odd pronunciation: the accent is on the third syllable, not the second.

WBW #68

ORIGIN: alteration of earlier bletherskate, from blether + skate (fish)


1: a blustering, talkative and often incompetent person

2: nonsense, blather

3: ruddy duck

SENTENCE: The worst kind of blatherskite is the one that follows you around all the time.

WHY IT’S INTERESTING: Fortunately, I don’t live around any blatherskites, but if I did, they’d probably drive me crazy.