May 3, 2006

Rapid Rhetoric: PALIMPSEST

This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

palimpsest n. Writing material, such as parchment, which has been written on more than once; the earlier writing has been incompletely erased and is often still legible.

The word "palimpsest" is also used in a metaphorical fashion to descibe the act of covering, cloaking, or the creation of a facade. Here is an example of the term's usage from Marie Huber, of McKinsey and Company: ""Rome is a palimpsest; everywhere modern chic overlays a bygone barbarism."

The word is derived from the Latin palimpsestus, and from the Greek palimpsestos "scraped again" (palin "again" + psen "to rub or scrape").


Hooda Thunkit said...


Your "Rapid Rhetoric" has inspired me to add a new feature to my (recently neglected) blog.

Check it out ;-)

Maggie Thurber said...

Mike - I really look forward to these lessons - thanks!

historymike said...

Thanks, all. It's a fun feature and I learn a lot by forcing myself to look up words I might otherwise gloss over.