Printable Version
Pronunciation: ep-ê-nor-tho-sis Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: (Rhetoric) The replacement of a phrase by a correction, usually a more emphatic one, for example: "It was a warm—I would even say, a hot day."

Notes: Here is a word you might bump into reading a piece on stylistics. It has but one member of its derivational family, the adjective epanorthotic. The plural, like all borrowed classic nouns ending on -is (axis : axes, basis : bases, thesis : theses), is epanorthoses.

In Play: We usually play with rhetorical words by giving more examples; I see no reason to break with this tradition: "Hundreds, no, thousands, turned out for the demonstration." We use it without thinking: "I was just curious to see how things turned out—actually, I would say that I'm anxious to find out."

Word History: This Good Word comes from Ancient Greek epanorthosis "correcting, revision", made up of epi "on" + anorthoun "to restore, rebuild" + -osis, a noun suffix. This word comprises ana "up" + orthoun "to straighten", a verb based on orthos "straight, right", hence to "straighten up, correct". Greek came by this word from PIE eredh-/oredh- "high, to grow", also found in Sanskrit urdhvah "high, steep", Latin arduus "high, steep" (source of the English borrowing arduous), and Irish ard "high". We also find Russian rasti "to grow", which might have come from the same source with A-R metathesis. The remains of orthos may be seen in several words borrowed by English from Greek: orthodontic, orthodoxy, orthopedic, and orthogonal "at right angles, perpendicular". (Today's Good Word was suggested by long-time member of our editorial board, Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, to whom we owe a double helping of gratitude.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!