Word of the Day

Saturday, July 24, 2004


\SY-uh-liz-uhm\ , noun;
Superficial knowledge; a superficial show of learning.
Religion was mostly superstition, science for the most part sciolism, popular education merely a means of forcing the stupid and repressing the bright, so that all the youth of the rising generation might conform to the same dull, dead level of democratic mediocrity.
-- Charles Waddell Chesnut, Conjure Tales and Stories of the Color Line
American classics teachers' choice in the early national period to focus on grammar rather than other aspects of the classical inheritance resulted from their primary pedagogical goals: to mold gentlemen who navigated between sciolism and pedantry, ministers who could intelligently read the Bible, and citizens who were moral and dutiful.
-- Caroline Winterer, The Culture of Classicism
Sciolism comes from Late Latin sciolus, "a smatterer," from diminutive of Latin scius, "knowing," from scire, "to know." One who has only superficial knowledge is a sciolist.
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