What Do You Call Someone Who Loves Words?

alex atkins bookshelf wordsThey are out there, numbering in the millions. You know the type — they love working on crossword puzzles, word scrambles (known as anagrams or logogriphs), word searches; or they love playing Scrabble, Wordle, Words with Friends, and so forth. Others who love words collect dictionaries or books about words. All of these individuals embrace epeolatry, the worship of words. The word was coined by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., the famous American physician, professor, author and poet, in his thought-provoking book, The Professor of the Breakfast Table, published in 1860. Holmes writes: “Time, time only, can gradually wean us from our Epeolatry, or word-worship, by spiritualizing our ideas of the thing signified.” The word epeolatry is derived from the Greek words epos, meaning “word”, and -latry from latreia, meaning “worship.” The word is pronounced “ep-i-OL-ah-tree.” Therefore, a person who loves words is an epeolatrist; however there are many other terms for word lovers: armchair linguist, lexicomane, logolept, logophile, logophiliac, onomatomaniac, verbomaniac, verbivore (a word coined by linguist Richard Lederer in the early 1980s), wordaholic, word fanatic, word maven, and word nut. Paradoxically, most of these terms for word lovers are rare and do not appear in most conventional dictionaries. Go figure.

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