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illustration Gnomic



Part of speech: adjective

Origin: Greek, early 19th century


Expressed in or of the nature of short, pithy maxims or aphorisms.


Enigmatic; ambiguous.

Examples of Gnomic in a sentence

"He seemed incapable of original thought and spoke only in gnomic riddles."

"The campaign speech excited the voters but remained gnomic in substance."

About Gnomic

The roots of this speech-related adjective are the same as the roots for the fairy-tale creature. In Greek, "gnōmē" means "thought or judgment." Gnomes have served many purposes in fantastical stories, but they're often storytellers, or givers of advice. The adjective "gnomic" became applied to trite sayings in the 19th century, well after the genesis of stories of magical gnomes.

Did you Know?

You might assume this adjective is of the garden-gnome variety, but it serves multiple purposes. You can use it to describe anything gnome-like, but it's better used to describe advice given through short, commonplace adages. Just don't go asking your garden gnome for his opinions; he'll probably remain fairly silent.

illustration Gnomic

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