Words I Love: phillumenist

phillumenist – noun

  1. a person who engages in phillumeny; a person who collects match-related items, like matchbox labels, matchboxes, matchbooks, or matchbook covers.

Origins: from the Greek phil- meaning loving and the Latin ‘lumen’ meaning light, the term has only been in existence since 1943 by Marjorie S. Evans, a British collector.

Phillumenist and phillumeny are such lovely sounding words. The fact that they exist is great and makes me want to look up terms for people who collect other things to see if they exist too and what they might be. These sound like terms you would see in a fantasy novel (I forget whether there are clairvoyants in The Bone Season that use matches for their craft, but I can well imagine that they are called phillumenists if there are).

I’ve discovered that I love words which put me in mind of little elderly people with crooked fingers and microscopic interests in things that the younger generation might find dull or silly. As I mentioned in my last Words I Love post, I love words that poke and prod at my imagination (and put me in mind of crooked people, maybe crooked should be my next word, since I’ve used it so much across these posts). Sure, technically all words do this. Words are our main method of communication and communication relies on our minds being able to make more from the sounds we thrust at each other with our mouths…

That took a weird turn. Sorry about that. But you get what I mean, right?

Anywho, it’s a lovely word. A lovely, lovely word.

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