Word of the Day

Wednesday, September 22, 1999


\REK-uhn-dyt\ , adjective;
Difficult to understand; abstruse.
Concerned with obscure subject matter.
And his fondness for stopping his readers short in their tracks with evidence of his recondite vocabulary is wonderfully irritating.
-- "Books of the Times", New York Times, February 23, 1951
Among his playmates he counts the Italian novelist and semiotics professor Umberto Eco, whom he befriended 15 years ago when they engaged in a fierce ottava rima competition that lasted for weeks. They still trade complicated riddles and recondite guessing games by mail.
-- "Roberto Benigni: The Funniest Italian You've Probably Never Heard Of", New York Times, October 11, 1998
He is a poet's poet, says another admirer, sometimes recondite and always deeply aware of the formal tradition of poetry.
-- "Crown prince of puns to give the past new life", Irish Times, May 22, 1999
Recondite is from Latin reconditus, past participle of recondere, "to store back," i.e., "out of the way," hence "to hide"; itself from re-, "back, again" + condere, "to put away, to store." Thus, recondite knowledge is "hidden" (because of obscurity or difficulty) from the understanding of the average person.
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