Meanings: “Hapax Legomenon”

January 12, 2012

“You are the hapax legomenon of my life,” says Paul West to his wife Diane Ackerman.  (They are both fine writers who have a way with words.)

The wikipedia entry says a hapax legomenon is “a word which occurs only once within a context, either in the written record of an entire language, in the works of an author, or in a single text.”

But West meant it as a very special term of endearment for Ackerman, as Language Log’s Julie Sedivy explains.

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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