In a word: technic

The Baltimore Sun

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word:


A fine word has fallen into disuse. Technic (pronounced TEK-nik) entered English from the Latin and Greek in the seventeenth century, the OED says, as an adjective referring to the arts and sciences, later associated with a particular art or science and its techniques. It derives in part from the Greek techne, “craft,” “craftsmanship,” or “art.”

As an adjective, it has been supplanted by technical, as a noun, by technique. It survives as a noun for technical details and methods, or practical skill in application, in occasional scientific or technical mentions, and for jocular effect in the works of H.L. Mencken, as in today’s example.

Example: H.L. Mencken, from “The Foundations of Quackery” in A Mencken Chrestomathy: “That is to say, there is nowhere a law forbidding yokels to drag virgins into infamy by the crude technic practiced since Tertiary times on the farms; there are only laws forbidding city youths to do it according to the refined technic of the great Babylons.”

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