Nomenclature - Wednesday Words

Image credit: Nicolas Alejandro, via Flickr

I keep a notebook close by when I read, in which I jot down memorable quotes, articles which interest me, and words whose of whose meaning I am unsure.

In this series, I hope to catalogue some of the more interesting words I have noted from books, along with their meaning, origin and literary quotes.

Nomenclature is a noun attributed to the devising or choosing of names, especially in science and other disciplines. It can also be used to describe:

  • the body or system of names used in a particular specialist field, or
  • the term or terms applied to someone or something.
The word, like so many in our language, is rooted in Latin, specifically from the word nomenclatura: comprising of nomen (name) and clatura (calling, or summoning). By the 17th century, nomenclature had found it's way into French; later to be adopted into English.

Usage of the word reached it's peak in the 1950's and has since suffered a rapid decline.

I came across this word while reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles in which it appears towards the end of a memorable quote:

In a single week, there might be committees, caucuses, colloquium, congresses, and conventions variously coming together to establish codes, set courses of action, levy complaints, and generally clamor about the world's oldest problems in its newest nomenclature.

Nomenclature seems a fitting start for this series indeed!

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