Vocabulary: Gnomically

From Terry Pratchett‘s “Witches Abroad”

“What’d anyone want to do that for?” said Nanny.
“Practice” said Granny.
“Practice?  What for?” said Magrat.
“I expect we’ll find out presently.” said Granny gnomically.
From context, the readers are well aware that Granny and the antagonist know each other even though they other characters are at this point completely unaware of the antagonist.
On reading my initial assumption was that it meant something akin to predictively or presciently.  But since I lacked confidence I wrote the word and page number on my bookmark to look up later.

  • Expressed in or of the nature of short, pithy maxims or aphorisms:
  • Enigmatic; ambiguous:

I think the second definition is more appropriate to Pratchett’s use.

Now for my favorite part, etymology:

from Greek root of gignoskein “to come to know” and gnostos “knowable.”  Which gives us “gnostic” for one who believes in God, and “agnostic” for one who thinks it’s impossible to know for sure.

Once again, thanks to etymonline.


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