Printable Version
Pronunciation: tæ-si-ahg-rê-fi Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Divination by of tea leaves, coffee grounds or residue of other drinks.

Notes: Although this word occurs 122,000 times on the Web, it occurs in only one dictionary, Wiktionary. Since this is not a description of tea-leaf reading, a more grammatical word is tasseomancy, which has been used in this sense. The adjective is tasseographic or tasseograhical and the adverb, tasseographically. A reader of tea-leaves or coffee grounds would be a tasseographer.

In Play: Tasseography is a form of fortune-telling: "Harry relies on tasseography for his investments, rather than the advice of the financial wizards." In other words, Harry made his millions tasseographically. "Harry's brother's tasseography consistently showed him a wealthy man, yet still he lives from hand to mouth."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a macaronic (mixing languages) compound consisting of French tasse "cup" + Greek -graphia "description". Tasse was was inherited from Medieval Latin tassa "cup", borrowed from Arabic tas(a) "bowl, cup". Tas(a) originated in Middle Persian tšt' (tašt), ultimately from the past participle of the Proto-Iranian verb taš- "to make, construct". -Graphia was a noun from graphein "to write, describe" from PIE gerbh- "to scratch, carve", also the source of English carve. Crawfish began its life as krabbiz "crab" in one of English's ancient Germanic ancestors. It was borrowed by Old French as crevis "crayfish". French returned this word as crevisse which English promptly converted to a more palatable crayfish by folk etymology. Now, since crayfish are "fish" that crawl, it ultimately became crawfish in some US dialects. (Our old friend word maven George Kovac of Miami, Florida, recommended this brand new Good Word some time ago. We wish him well.)

Dr. Goodword,

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