Learn About the Grammatical Term 'Logophile'

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

Logophiles love to collect words, especially rare and unusual words. (supakali/Getty Images)

A logophile is a lover of words. Also called a word lover or philologos. A related term is logomaniac, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "a person who is obsessively interested in words."

From the Greek, "word" + "love"

Examples and Observations

  • "I am a lifelong logophile if not an out-and-out verbivore. I have a good ear and a good memory for words, it's just a kind of tic or trick, the way some lucky people can play a song by ear after hearing it once or count cards at blackjack or spot four-leaf clovers. Unusual and specialized words tend to lodge in my mind, where they hang around, often for years, until I need them. American English has an astonishingly rich vocabulary and we typically use so little of it; I think that's a shame, or maybe it would be better to say I think of it as an invitation.
    "I write with two dictionaries right at my elbow . . .. I look forward to visiting my dictionaries anew every time I sit down to write. The same goes for when I'm reading and I come across an unknown word: Quaternions? Yahoo! I get to go to the dictionary!
    "I know that's probably kind of freakish. I guess I am counting on the readership of freaks."
    (Michael Chabon, "Questions for Michael Chabon." The New York Times, Feb. 8, 2007)
  • "I am a medical logophile, and in using words, I will often go to the Greek or Latin roots; doing so helps me use words more precisely."
    (Robert B. Taylor, Medical Writing: A Guide for Clinicians, Educators, and Researchers, 2nd ed. Springer, 2011)
  • Vocabulary Building
    "[The] suspicion of new words, a distaste of verbal novelty, is acquired in school from dreary English teachers still in thrall to Hemingwayesque simplicities. You know their chief cliche from your own school days: always use the simple word, class! Never seek out a synonym or exotic foreign term. Thank goodness I had a father who taught the very opposite: always discover the rarest yet still correct word. By doing that, a young student accomplishes two things. You expand your vocabulary and you flummox ordained pedagogical authority, namely the dull teacher."
    ( Bill Casselman, Where a Dobdob Meets a Dikdik: A Word Lover's Guide to the Weirdest, Wackiest, and Wonkiest Lexical Gems. Adams Media, 2010)
  • The Sweetest-Sounding Words in English (1950)
    "While most of the words that [columnist Frank] Colby discusses are suggested by his readers, Colby turned the tables in 1942 by asking them: What are the most euphonious English words? The top ten by popular vote: mother, memory, Cellophane, bellboy, melancholy, belladonna, flamingo, wilderness, tambourine, lavender. Last week Logophile Colby reported the results of a new readers' poll. Mother had slipped a bit, but was still listed among the top ten. There were eight new favorites. The 1950 hit parade: melody, lullaby, mimosa, memory, mellow, mother, moonbeam, murmuring, beautiful, lanolin."
    ("The Press: Mimosa, Moonbeams & Memory." Time magazine, Jan. 30, 1950)
  • Creating Kingdoms
    "A love of words comes from the work of playing around with language. We learn words by hearing them, rolling them around on our tongues and in our minds like a small child does as she learns language. A person who loves language plays with it--hears words and links them with other sounds, other meanings, and other words. The patterns and sounds of language are fascinating to the lover of words. From these connections, many poets find poems. Poetry comes as Harry Behn writes (1968) from falling in love with language. Rebecca Kai Dotlich says in 'A Kingdom of Words,' that a word may seem to be just a word, but a poet can create 'a kingdom around it.'"
    (Barbara Chatton, Using Poetry Across the Curriculum: Learning to Love Language. Greenwood, 2010)

Also Known As: word lover, philologos

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Nordquist, Richard. "Learn About the Grammatical Term 'Logophile'." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/what-is-a-logophile-1691139. Nordquist, Richard. (2020, August 27). Learn About the Grammatical Term 'Logophile'. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-logophile-1691139 Nordquist, Richard. "Learn About the Grammatical Term 'Logophile'." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-logophile-1691139 (accessed May 29, 2023).