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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

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« How to Refer Readers to a Map | Main | I.e. or E.g. -- Which Do You Choose? »

March 05, 2018


Martha Ray

My guess was “multi-talented”...

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Martha,

I'm curious about whether you guessed "multi-talented" because you are familiar with Donald Glover. Or did you get the idea from "polymath"?


John Held

I knew the word from a SciFi novel from the 70s. The title of the novel, oddly enough, was "Polymath". So it was actually a rather esoteric word that I already knew.


I couldn't guess it at all. I was trying to split the word in "poly" (many) and "math" (mathematics) so I thought it had to do with numbers, arithmetic and calculus, but I clearly was completely off road!


Sorry for the double comment, but now that I know the definition of polymath I'm wondering if it is a synonim of eclectic...


It's also in Hamilton, in the song "Take a Break," where Alexander describes himself as a polymath.

Martha Ray

Hi Lynn. My guess was twofold. (A little bit of each of your suggestions!) The word has the root of “poly”, which hinted many or multi. And in the context of the sentence example that you provided, it made sense, since Mr. Glover is indeed talented. I really like learning to incorporate fresh words into everyday language, and this is a good one! Thanks.

JD Gershbein

I consider myself a polymath, but, alas, did not know the word prior to accessing this blog post.

I welcome the word to my working vocabulary, too.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hello John, Deborah, April, Martha, and JD,

John, having the word as the title of a book would certainly help a person learn it. Great method!

Deborah, I did what you did. "Poly" was easy, but "math" didn't make sense to me. But I learned from reading closely in the dictionary that "math" refers to learning--not necessarily numbers, as we think of it. Regarding "eclectic," I don't think it quite fits, but it does cover some of the same ground in "selecting what appears to be the best in various . . . styles."

April, you're right! I have listed to my "Hamilton" CD and just saw the play on Friday night. Now that have you have prompted me, I do remember hearing the word there, but there was so much to take in. Thanks!

Martha, thanks for elaborating. Your approach makes perfect sense.

JD, now you can be a real polymath! I'm glad you found this post helpful.


Cathy Miller

I did; however, that's because a writer friend of mine uses the term to describe herself. I admit to me it sounds more like a calculus equation. I wonder how many people THAT turns off. ;-)

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Good point, Cathy. It sounds like a course I don't want to take!


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