"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 January 2013


Clerisy means educated people considered as a group; the literati; the intelligensia.  Sadly the word has largely fallen out of use since Victorian times despite it being much better than the clumsy 'intelligensia' or 'literati'.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word 'clerisy' was introduced into English by Coleridge in 1818 to refer to 'learned men as a body, scholars'. It therefore has no religious connotaions and no connection with the clergy. Indeed, there has since been some debate as to whether or not the clergy were meant to be included in or excluded from the clerisy but there is no evidence to suggest their exclusion.  

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