thaw-mê-tah-lê-jee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: 1. The study of miracles. 2. The world of miracles, miracles as a general phenomenon.
Notes: Like all nouns ending on -ology, today's Good Word comes with a full panoply of the usual derivations. The adjective is thaumatological and the practitioner is a thaumatologist. This word is not frequently used, but it is out there with its rather large extended family (for which see Word History).
In Play: Since miracles by definition are not given to explanation, the range of this word's use is rather limited, and it is used mostly tongue-in-cheek: "We have not completed the thaumatology of Bunny's graduation from college, but it seems to be real and we are much relieved." I must admit, however, as twice a father and four times a grandfather, that the emergence of a new person into this world strikes me as something of a genuinely thaumatological event.
Word History: The root, thaumato-, comes from Greek thauma- "wonder, marvel", which is found in several other words. Thaumatolatry is the worship of or excessive reverence for miracles. Thaumatogeny [thaw-mÍ-tah-jÍ-nee] is the assumption that the origin of life was a miracle, as opposed to nomogeny [nÍ-mah-jÍ-nee], the assumption that the origin of life was natural—terms that could find a use in the current "intelligent design" debate. A miracle worker is either a thaumaturge or thaumaturgist and the working of miracles is thaumaturgics, although this word is also used to indicate feats of legerdemain or "magic". (It is no miracle that Jonjuan Palmary suggested this word since he is a frequent contributor to the Alpha Agora.)
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