One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounPlural hapax legomena
A term of which only one instance of use is recorded.
- ‘Pope notes that Job has more hapax legomena (words which occur only once in the whole Bible) than any other Biblical book.’
- ‘Grattius' diction - which includes numerous technical terms and hapax legomena - and versification are Augustan, but he does not always express himself lucidly.’
- ‘Just where did this hapax legomenon of a word come from?’
- ‘Moreover, many of the new words will occur only once; these are the so-called hapax legomena.’
- ‘In philology a hapax legomenon is almost always a word and is a problem because a single usage doesn't generally give us enough information to figure out what it means.’
Mid 17th century: Greek, ‘a thing said once’, from hapax ‘once’ and the passive participle of legein ‘to say’.
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