Word curio icon

Word Curio

July 19, 2019

Word of the Day: Gnomic

2 CQ

Word of the Day : July 19, 2019

gnomic \NOH-mik\ adjective


1 : characterized by aphorism

2 : given to the composition of aphoristic writing

Did You Know?

A gnome is an aphorism—that is, an observation or sentiment reduced to the form of a saying. Gnomes are sometimes couched in metaphorical or figurative language, they are often quite clever, and they are always concise. We borrowed the word gnome in the 16th century from the Greeks, who based their gnome on the verb gignōskein, meaning "to know." (The other gnome—referring to the dwarf of folklore—comes from New Latin and is unrelated to the aphoristic gnome.) We began using gnomic, the adjective form of gnome, in the late 18th century. It describes a style of writing, or sometimes speech, characterized by pithy phrases, which are often terse to the point of mysteriousness.

Aired July 19, 2019

All Merriam-Webster content is available at

  • Recommended Recommended
  • History & In Progress History
  • Browse Library
  • Most Popular Library

Get Personalized Recommendations

Let us help you figure out what to learn! By taking a short interview you’ll be able to specify your learning interests and goals, so we can recommend the perfect courses and lessons to try next.

Start Interview

You don't have any lessons in your history.
Just find something that looks interesting and start learning!

500 characters max
Cara E
It might have been helpful to have included an example of a gnomic saying
500 characters max