Printable Version
Pronunciation: ahp-sê-mæth Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: (Literary) A person who undertakes study late in life, a person who learns late in life (an old dog that can learn new tricks).

Notes: As more and more people return to school and on-line study after retirement, the more we need today's Good Word. We even predict that the growing number of opsimaths will include many polymaths, people who are educated in many subjects. The activity of opsimaths is opsimathy. Things pertaining to opsimathy and opsimaths are opsimathic.

In Play: The popularity of opsimathy is growing in the US as baby-boomers age and more and more of them return to university after retirement: "Professor Badenoff was surprised to discover that 25% of the students enrolled in his medieval philosophy course were opsimaths." Experience, in fact, enhances learning, so be careful how you speak to older folks these days: "I didn't realize what an opsimath the boss was when I told him that old dogs can't learn new tricks."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes to us from Greek, where opse means "late" and math- means "learning". Mathematics shares the same root, but it comes from the adjective of mathema "science, learning". The original Proto-Indo-European stem that became math in Greek turned into Russian mudry "wise", Avestan mazda "wise", and Sanskrit mantrah "counsel, prayer". It turns up with a Fickle N (an N that is sometime there, sometimes not) in Latin mens, mentis "mind" that we find in the English borrowing, mental, and the common abstract noun suffix -ment found in English and Romance languages.

Dr. Goodword,

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