Logomachy is a dispute over words, verbiage marked controversy, an everyday happenstance; most of us just don’t know that there is a word for it!


There is some uncertainty regarding this interesting compound. While all researchers agree ‘logo’ stems from the Greek word log (only later on logo) meaning word or speech, many differ regarding its second half. Some say ‘machy’ stemmed from the Greek latry standing for worship, others follow the phonological and derivational resemblance to the Greek word machesthai, which also holds a debate. In the one and only source I found, its meaning was told to be ‘fight’, in this case it would have been logically compatible, however, something didn’t add up. As I looked for the meaning of the word in the only place it appears in the Bible (2 Timothy 2:24), I found that its original meaning is actually- not to fight, to be gentle. As I was not able to trace latry back, or to find the derivational path through which it became machi, I have to assume the compound meaning of the two deletes the initial negation inherent within machesthai.

Why this word?

In an unused words collection, a word representing a dispute over word, a sort of dispute I believe most of us have on a daily basis, looks like the right thing to do.

How to use logomachy? 

Next time you are amidst a lexical debate, instead of saying “it’s all about semantics anyway”, you can say “enough with this logomachy”. Note that this one is not only a noun, but also an adjective; next time someone corrects you for the smallest misuse, you can say “David is such a logomachist…”


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Written by Victoria Sheinkin

Victoria Sheinkin is a writer, content editor, translator and chief editor for Speaking three and a half languages, she holds two BAs from the Tel Aviv university- Communication and jounalism, English literature and linguistics.


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