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Definition: excessive use of the letter i, boastful, self-centered.

Pronunciation: i-O-ta-sist


This is one of those great-history words that I personally adore! The Greek vowel “i” is called iota, and the process of iotacism is a phonological process very evident in Modern Greek with which vowels in proximity to the iota vowel- change their sound to resemble the iota sound.

In “Weird and Wonderful Words”, edited by Erin McKean and Roz Chast (2003, Oxford University Press) I found the following: “this word could have a new use as a way to someone boastful and self-centered”; when I found it I thought “hey, if McKean and Chast propose an offer- we might as well take it!”

Why this word?

I don’t really know what McKean and Chast add their suggestion for future use, but I am assuming it had to do with the love for words and wanting the good ones to stick around for a while. As describing the Greek phonological process, this word is quite dead (considering not too many linguists deal with Modern Greek phonology), but it has another main feature- the letter “i”, that should not be neglected!

We all know a few people who only speak of themselves, who only ponder about themselves and really- those who couldn’t care less about the counterpart “di” which is supposed to turn their monologues into dialogues; this one goes to you guys!

How to use the word iotacist in a sentence?

“So how was your weekend? I woke up so early in the morning and was so tired.. But I had a quick cup of coffee before I went shopping and then to the beach. Oh! And you know who I met? Jeff! And he told me I look so good which made me like ‘uggh where were you a year ago’ you know? So I told him….”

“Jesus! Didn’t you start from asking how my weekend was? You’re a complete iotacist!”


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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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