• enchiridion •
en-kê-ri-di-yên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A book small enough to be carried in the hand (handbook) for reference, especially one used for music or theology.
Notes: The plural of today's word is enchiridions or the Greek enchiridia. The Greek CH was actually similar to the Scottish and German [ch], produced by forming a [k] but hissing with the back of the throat rather than completely stopping the flow of air, rather like clearing your throat. In English Greek CH is always pronounced [k].
In Play: Today's long though beautiful word is especially appropriate when referring to a book that is important despite its size: "Milquetoast carried with himself an enchiridion of the meditations of Rambo for those moments when tension in the office built to his breaking point." The word is often used to refer to any small book, but it should be a reference book, "Phil Anders's enchiridion of the telephone numbers of all the single women in town was the object of great envy among the guys at the gym."
Word History: Today's word is the Late Latin word, enchiridion, itself borrowed from Greek enkheiridion, made up of en- "in" + kheir "hand" + -idion "small" (diminutive suffix). The oldest form of the root in today's word is ghes- "hand". Greek kheir presumably comes from a suffixed form, ghes-r-, also found in chirurgeon which was whittled down to chirurgien in French and on down to surgeon in English. In Latin, this PIE root is only found preceded by the prefix prae- "before" in such words as praesto "at hand", from prai + ghes + to. The current Italian word is presto "quickly".
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