Word of the Day Archive
Thursday May 18, 2006
palimpsest \PAL-imp-sest\ , noun:
1. A manuscript, usually of papyrus or parchment, on which more than one text has been written with the earlier writing incompletely erased and still visible.
2. An object or place whose older layers or aspects are apparent beneath its surface.
The manuscript is a palimpsest consisting of vellum leaves from which the "fluent and assured script" of the original Archimedes text and 55 diagrams had been washed or scraped off so that the surface could be used for new writings.
-- Roger Highfield, "Eureka! Archimedes text is to be sold at auction", Daily Telegraph, October 3, 1998
Each is a palimpsest, one improvisation partly burying another but leaving hints of it behind.
-- Robert Hughes, "Delight for Its Own Sake", Time, January 22, 1996
It's a mysterious many-layered palimpsest of a metropolis where generations of natives and visitors have left their mark, from Boadicea and the Romans, through the Middle Ages and the Elizabethan era to the present.
-- Philip French, "Jack the knife", The Observer, February 10, 2002
Palimpsest is from Latin palimpsestus, from Greek palimpsestos, "scraped or rubbed again," from palin, "again" + psen, "to rub (away)."