Words: Chrestomathy, n.

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The Independent Culture
THE JOHN Lennon box, blandly titled Anthology, merited a pun upon chrestomathy. Greek for useful learning, it is less random. The last OED instance is 1883, but new, wide currency came in 1949 with The Mencken Chrestomathy. Mencken, Alistair Cooke's hero, ignored the word's recent nuance, an aid to the acquiring of a language; nor was he deterred by

a few newspaper smarties [who] protested that the word would be unfamiliar to many readers, as it was to them. Thousands of excellent nouns, verbs and adjectives that have stood in every decent dictionary for years are still unfamiliar to such ignoramuses, and I do not solicit their patronage.

Let them continue to recreate themselves with whodunnits, and leave my vocabulary and me to my own customers, who have all been to school.

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