Word Wednesday: Phrontistery (for the philosophers among us)

HS Library-1Yes, this truly is a word – of Greek origin, no less. And it could even pass for another name for our Seminary (though our focus and purpose is more specific).

This unique word was unfamiliar and unknown to me until I read a recent newsletter (December, 2014) of the Genesis PR School in Lacombe, AB, Canada. On the back of this newsletter “phrontistery” was featured under the heading “Having fun with strange words.” As soon as I saw it, I knew I had an item for our “Word Wednesday” feature.

What the school did to have fun with this word was to ask the teachers and students in grades 4-9 to guess its meaning – without the assistance of a dictionary or Google. In addition, they were asked where their favorite phrontistery was (not much of a hint, but you will understand when you discover the meaning).

So that you can enjoy some of the fun of guessing this word’s meaning, I share some of the answers here:

  • “Small sticky things which you find when you look in the cracks of your couch.”
  • “A museum about the frontier/ in Iowa”
  • “The history of dinosaurs/ In Montana”
  • “A small tropical bird native to the polar regions of Morocco” (that from a teacher!)
  • “A kind of bacteria/ In Fungus”
  • A young scientist/ In a science lab”

So, what is your guess?

OK, but what does this unusual – even, rare – word really mean?

Here is the definition as found at the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

Full Definition of PHRONTISTERY

:  a place for thinking or study


Greek phrontistērion, from phrontistēs philosopher, deep thinker, person with intellectual pretensions, from phrontizein to reflect, take thought, from phrontid-, phrontis reflection, thought; akin to Greek phren-, phrēn diaphragm, mind
Interesting, is it not? Were you at all close in your guess?
Do you see now why I said our Seminary could be considered a phrontistery? Indeed, we have true philosophers (lovers of wisdom and, therefore, true thinkers!) there!

Now, where is your favorite phrontistery? I hope it’s a library and involves books! 🙂
By the way, there is an online phrontistery where you can do some serious (and fun!) study of words.
Published in: on January 7, 2015 at 8:49 PM  Leave a Comment  

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