Isn’t it irenic? It’s time to bring back beautiful words we have lost | Adrian Chiles

Isn’t it irenic? It’s time to bring back beautiful words we have lost | Adrian Chiles

The Guardian

.

.
.
.

The word for ‘tending to create peace’ is one of dozens of forgotten positive terms – while negative terms flourish. Let’s redress the balance

I was trying to make a small impression on my pile of unread editions of the London Review of Books at the weekend. I’ve been stuck at base camp for a while now. I struggle for the time and/or IQ necessary to appreciate much of the content, but there’s always something brilliant in there for me. This is usually a fascinating biography of someone I’ve never heard of, generally presented in the shape of a review of a biography; a review written by someone who plainly feels they know the subject better than the biographer.

On this occasion, the discovery of just one word, in a piece by Rosemary Hill, was worth the cover price. She uses the word “irenic” to describe the son of John Lewis, the original draper. Irenic? I’d emphatically never come across this word before. This is a shame because it describes something beautiful. As I’m sure Guardian readers will know, it means, according to Chambers, “tending to create peace”; my Concise Oxford English Dictionary has it as “aiming or aimed at peace”. Either way, sweet.

Continue reading…