Euerergetism, Paraprosdokian, and Organleptic

By Maeve Maddox

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These three words have nothing to do with each other. They’re just interesting.

Euerergetism
The first time I encountered euerergetism may have been in an article about Boris Johnson before he was Britain’s prime minister.

While Mayor of London, Johnson declared that Britain needed “a greater sense of eurergetism.” A classical scholar, he was familiar with the use of the term to describe the ancient practice of benefaction by wealthy Greeks and Romans, but he was also looking back at Victorian times when wealthy businessmen felt a sense of duty to share their wealth with the public. According to Johnson, “In those times people really thought it was disgraceful not to endow schools and hospitals and libraries.”

Similar to philanthropy, euerergetism is a term for public gift-giving by wealthy Greeks and Romans in ancient times. The difference is that philanthropy refers to the giving alone, while euerergetism includes public honors bestowed upon the givers. Examples of such honors would include naming schools and hospital wings after the benefactor or erecting a statue. Both words derive from Greek:

philanthropy: “the love of humankind”
eueregetism: “I do good things”

Not yet to be found in either the Oxford English Dictionary or Merriam-Webster, eueregetism may be a word whose time has come. When a few individuals have been able to amass funds greater than those held by many world governments, a clear need has arisen for them to share their enormous wealth with the societies from which they have drawn it.

Paraprosdokian
This word names a literary device, a figure of speech in which the end of a sentence, phrase, stanza or other unit ends in an unexpected way. The surprise may be humorous, shocking, or anticlimactic.

The term is from Greek words for against and expectation. A twentieth century neologism, the word is not in the OED, but appeared in print as early as 1891.

Many quotations attributed to Groucho Marx made frequent use of paraprosdokian:

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.

Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?

Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

Henny Youngman’s “Take my wife—please!” is another example, as is Rodney Dangerfield’s “My uncle’s dying wish was to have me sit in his lap; he was in the electric chair.”

Alexander Pope uses the device in opening stanza of The Rape of the Lock. He sets the scene at Hampton Court in the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1707):

Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey,
Dost sometimes counsel take—and sometimes tea.

In this example, the result is anticlimax.
(Note: In Pope’s day, the word tea rhymed not with bee, but with bay.)

Organoleptic
This is an adjective to describe the use of sense organs or senses, especially of smell and taste.

Its olives yield an extra virgin olive oil featuring extraordinary chemical and organoleptic qualities.

The sucrose accumulated in the beans is one of the organoleptic compounds in coffee.

In the food industry garlic batches are frequently investigated by organoleptic testing using a trained panel of human experts.

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