Definition: A master of the dining experience.
Entered into English around 1650. Originally from the Greek Diepnosophistai – or dinner table philosophers.
Why this word?
This word offers a window into a forgotten world. The Greek philosopher Athenaeus wrote a treatise on dinner etiquette in the 3rd century. It was called Diepnosophistai. The book – running to some fifteen volumes (only three of which survive in fragmentary form) – covered everything that the master dinner host should know. It ran to a surprising number of topics – everything from the culinary arts, the food and the kitchen itself through to all that was needed to provide a satisfactory dinner party conversation – eg, literature, history, grammar etc.
I am reminded of the Monty Python sketch where a couple go to a restaurant and are given a menu of conversations to choose from. Surely an example of deipnosophist training?
How to use this word?
There is – literally – no better way to highlight your dinner party conversation prowess than to know the ‘true’ word for it. The definition of a true deipnosophist is someone who can hold a conversation about deipnosophism. Dinner-party philosophers rejoice!