Definition: A master of the dining experience.

Pronunciation: Dee-ep-nohs-oh-fist


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!


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Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


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