New words

I learned a couple of new words today.

1. A discourse or narrative concerning prodigies; a marvellous tale, or collection of such tales.
2. Biol. The study of monstrosities or abnormal formations in animals or plants.

This one isn’t in either my dictionary widget or the OED, but here’s the context (from Umberto Eco’s Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages:

As Genesis taught, ‘God saw all that he had made, and found it very good.’ And the Book of wisdom taught also that God created the world according to number, weight, and measure. As we shall see, these concepts were taken to be aesthetic as well as cosmological, and also as expressions of the Good, the metaphysical Bonum.
     It was the Scriptures, then, extended and amplified by the Fathers, which produced this pancalistic vision of the cosmos.

Any guesses? Here’s a hint: pan + cal + istic, and think Greek.

“Cal” is the same as the first part of “kaleidoscope” (a Greek word if ever there was one), and “pan” is in many of our words: e.g., pantheism, pan-American (but not pancake).

Click the link below to see the definition.

Pancalistic = “all-good-istic”—the idea that the whole created universe is good. It goes against the Manichaean belief that evil has separate existence from the good.


3 Responses to “New words”

  1. Steven Fontana Says:

    Eco must be fond of “pancalistic,” it also appears in “On Ugliness.” The search to verify its meaning led me here. A few pages earlier he uses the word “hyperuranian,” which I have seen in commentaries on Plato and the Trinity and assume to mean “beyond celestial.” If anyone has a more clarifying idea of its definition and usage, I should like to see it.

  2. vatterott Says:


    […]New words « Curly Couch[…]…

  3. marina Says:

    I have encountered this word in Echo’s “History of Ugliness” and I think that its appropriate definition would be: pancalistic = the idea that the whole universe is beautiful (from “pan” = all and “kalos”=beautiful).

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