Tag Archives: Greek language

Weekly Word Wrangle: Hagiography


I recently came across a tip schedule for writers, its’ very first tip was never to use alliteration.  Well pooh to that, I like alliteration and so does the internet obviously with www. being three letters that are ingrained in our consciousness. So starts my weekly word wrangle (I could have added ‘Wednesday’s’ but I used restraint!).

From time to time I come across words that I have never seen before, have been used in a context not expected or just plain make me scratch my head, laugh or wonder enough to look the up the meaning or to think about using it in some writing. These words could pop up in something I am reading; by flicking through a dictionary; watching a TV show; listening to lyrics of a song or by wrangling a new word that I have heard in conversation. It is a great game for me to find a word that I do not know and explore it a little further to increase my word knowledge.

So the inaugural wonder word is Hagiography.

I heard this mentioned on TV last week but couldn’t quite grasp what it was all about in the context of the show I was watching.  So off I went to find this word that reminded me of the word Haggis.  Nothing to do with Haggis, it’s actually rooted in the Greek language.  I guessed that it would have to do with writing or drawing with the ‘graphy’ part but wasn’t sure about the ‘hagio’ bit.

So like a good student I headed toward a dictionary, in this instance the Macquarie Online version which tells me that the word is about the writing and study of the saints (that’s the ‘hagio’ part of the word = ‘holy’), but it still wasn’t in the context of the show I was watching which was definitely not about saints. Sooooo I went to the second meaning which is basically a flattering biography which puts its subject on a pedestal….. ah hah found it fitted perfectly in the show’s circumstance.

Apparently you can also have an autohagiography – it sounds like some of the self-congratulatory politician’s biographies that are circulating!

Source of definition