Daily Archives: July 2, 2015


Is the meaning of this word clear when you look at it?

It’s a lovely long word with a nice balance on the page. If you are an inveterate word taster, you will surely see that phony and know that it’s not a fake: it’s the same as you see in symphony and cacophony. So this word refers to a kind of sound. And the sound of this word, you will also guess correctly, puts the stress on the pivot o in the middle. But what kind of light do we get from the lamp?

Too easy, isn’t it? There’s no way that that lamp could be the same lamp that lights your desk. Perhaps it is part of a lamprey? Or an electric eel on an electric guitar? Or perhaps it is softly glowing, lambent.

But in fact this really is one that you can see clearly through. Greek λάμπειν lampein meant ‘shine’; the derived λαμπρός lampros meant ‘shining, bright’. From the first we get lamp, and from the second we get lamprophony and a few other lampro– words. So lamprophony is bright, shining sound. Specifically, it refers to a quality of voice: loud and clear – good enunciation, good projection, good resonance. The sort of person you can hear across a crowded room, like a bright lamp in the caliginous fog.