How can a language exist without words? And a language lover should love words. So what is a lover of words called?
The most common words for a lover of words are logophile and lexiphile. A person who relishes learning new languages is a linguaphile. A multilingual person is a polyglot. Wordsmiths, linguists, lexicologists, and philogists must also love language; otherwise, they wouldn’t do what they do.
Read on to learn the differences between logophile and lexiphile and why wordsmiths, linguists, and lexicologists must also love words.
Names for Lovers of Words
Both logophile and lexiphile end in phile, which is related to the Greek word phileein. Modern usage has expanded the meaning from “love” to include “enthusiastic” “likes,” or is “fond of.”
The Greek word logo (λόγος) is often translated as word. However, it can also mean logic, thought, and speech. In a religious context, logos refers to wisdom, the divine word, or truth.
The Greek word lexi (λέξις) means “diction” or “word.” Reading ability can be measured by “lexile levels.” And the vocabulary of a language is its “lexicon.”
Logophile is more commonly used to describe a lover of words, but based on the root words, lexiphile definitely wins. Logo could be used in many contexts, but Lexi is directly related to words.
Urban Dictionary gets the final word. Vek the scrabble player posted this definition of lexiphile:
“A word used to describe those that have a love for words. One guy I know is really a lexiphile, and he loves words, but only if he can use them to win a Scrabble game.”
Is a Wordsmith a Logo- or Lexi- phile?
A wordsmith in a general sense is a writer, but “smith” suggests a craftsperson–blacksmith, goldsmith, and locksmith are three examples. Skilled writers who pay close attention to word choice and sentence structure can be called wordsmiths.
However, wordsmiths see language as a tool. Some wordsmiths think of themselves as lexiphiles, but they think of words as lools. Not every wordsmith is a lexiphile, just like not every lexiphile is a writer.
What About Linguists, Lexicologists, and Philologists?
- A linguist is a person who studies languages and their structures. Without words, a language doesn’t exist, but words alone don’t make a language.
- A lexicologist is someone who specializes in compiling dictionaries. They can compile words for a dictionary, study new words or expressions (neologisms), or the history of words—their etymology. They get paid for their love of words. However, job opportunities for lexicologists are extremely limited.
- A philologist is an expert in the historical and comparative study of languages. Their focus is on how languages evolve. They are interested in how words change over time. They might not be the best Scrabble players since they would try to get away with Wordsmythe.
Synonyms for Word
It seems ironic that most synonyms for word are related to ways we can use words.
For example, I can talk, chat, discuss, parley, chitchat, or interview.
Can I have a word with you?
You can give someone a word, news, intelligence, an account, advice, or a message.
Have you had any word about Joey?
A person can pledge, promise, vow, assure, warrant, or guarantee.
You have my word that the car has enough gas to get across town.
I can give you a word of warning, promise I won’t breathe a word of this to anyone, wait for someone to give the word, have words with a friend, or word a complaint correctly.
The only synonyms I found in the thesaurus for word are name, term, phrase, expression, appellation, and locution. Maybe, like punctuation, we know it when we see it,
How Many “-phile” Words are There?
A lover of words is a logophile or lexiphile. And a proper lexiphile might want (or need) to know how many words end in -exist. And the answer is more than 20 or 50, which are the numbers commonly seen on the internet. Dig a little deeper, and you find that they number in the 100s.
The site AlphaDictionary devotes an article to the philias (a person who has a philia is a phile). The article has 26 pages, one for each letter.
An ailurophile loves cats, an anthophile loves plants, and an ataxophile loves messy rooms. Love the Beatles? You’re a Beatlephile. And if you love fish, consider yourself an ichthyophile.
And new -philes are being created constantly. I love Pop Tarts. Does that make me a poptartophile?
Logophile and lexophile are the most commonly used words for word lovers. Logophile is used more frequently, but lexophile is a more accurate word.
If you are interested in some odd and unusual words we have uncovered, check out our vocabulary page.
What are your favorite words? Leave them in the comments.
And please share and spread “the word.”