"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Friday, 4 March 2011


When I first came across the wrod wuphuism I thought it was probably just another form of the word euphemism (an inoffensive or indirect expression that is substituted for one that is considered offensive or too harsh), especially as it fitted the context. In fact the two are not related at all.

Euphuism means an affected bombastic style of language; high-flown diction; a flowery, affected type of writing. It is so called from "Euphues,or the Anatomy of Wit," (1578) and "Euphues and his England," works of Sir John Lyly's written in that style.

This affected style of conversation and writing was fashionable for some time in the court of Queen Elizabeth and the main character in Lyly's works is a fashionable young man named Euphues. The style in which the book is written is full of convoluted sentences, rhetorical questions, alliteration, and references to classical literature with which educated people were assumed to be familiar.

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