Phlyarologist (a definition)

I’m a phlyarologist, and proud of it.

I originally found this word via the marvelous site Or, more correctly, I’d have to say that the word found me. I had been looking for a word to adopt (preferably a poor, lonesome one with few friends), and this one leapt out at me, grabbed me around the throat and promised to strangle me if I didn’t immediately promise to use it wherever I could (and other places, too). Under the circumstances, I had little choice, although I know some who would say the world would have been a better place had I refused.

I have been asked the question: what exactly is a phlyarologist?

The earliest definition of ‘phlyarologist’ I’ve been able to find on the web dates to 17Jan2005 (according to the Wayback Machine). This ascribes the meaning ‘one who speaks nonsense’ to our poor, defenceless (apart from the strangling bit) word.

Now, I’ve often said that one shouldn’t believe everything you read on the Internet, so I find it both amusing and particularly apt that this definition is, in essence, wrong.

The suffix ‘logy‘ comes from the Greek language; it is ‘a combining form used in the names of bodies of knowledge’. Following on from this, a ‘-logist’ is one who studies (a body of knowledge). A biologist, for instance, is one who studies biology.

Phlyarology then, is the study of nonsense; and a phlyarologist is one who studies nonsense — not, necessarily, one who speaks it.

It does have to be said, though, that the pursuit of phlyarology has a tendency to instil a sense of the absurd. It’s quite common to find phlyarologists who are incredibly good at speaking nonsense of the total and utter variety. Some notable examples of Master Phlyarologists of the First Order would include:

I should point out that I myself am only a Trainee Phlyarologist — any suggestion that any nonsense I spout is comparable to that produced by the above list of genii is itself nonsense of the complete and ludicrous flavour.

Here’s hoping that’s cleared that one up.

About pendantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
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31 Responses to Phlyarologist (a definition)

  1. So now I know. . .

    You may have to edificate them ;-)

    • pendantry says:

      There’s lots of places that get it wrong (including, the place where I first found this wonderful nugget). One of my main tenets is “don’t believe everything you read on the ‘Net” (and another: “take everything I say with a pinch of salt”). As for edification: I do my best, but life’s too short to register with all these websites just to throw in another semi-worthless tuppence! :)

  2. I could not agree more. life is very short, make the best of every day…

    • pendantry says:

      I have a very good friend who takes offence at those who make jibes about his vertically challenged status. He has such a huge chip on his shoulder about it that he even starts when someone uses that word you just used (though you do have to bend down quite a long way to see it). Unfortunately, I’m beginning to suspect that his affliction may be catching.

      Excuse me, I think I have to go and lie down for a, um, long while.

  3. Reblogged this on The Sound of Flying Kiwi and commented:
    I can really, really relate to this. Phlyarologist is also the word that chose me, and… it fits.

  4. Jennwith2ns says:

    I might have to reblog this one, too, once I get back to blogging . . . and reblogging.

    If I spent 47.82 seconds staring at the title of this in your sidebar trying to figure out how to *pronounce* “phlyarologist” before clicking on it, can I be a Trainee-Trainee Phlyarologist?

    • pendantry says:

      I believe that a bearer of such a high-precision timepiece is clearly well prepared to delve into the arcane (and highly-misunderstood) inner workings of phlyarology. And perhaps, when you return from your travels, you might consider enrolling in the Multiphasic Phlyarological University? (The foundations are being laid as we speak, though there may be a snag as the Chief Architect went on sick leave before finalising the construction blueprints — he was last seen heading off into the sunset muttering something incoherent; those nearby think they heard snatches that may have included ‘insufferable’, ‘ludicrous working conditions’, ‘crowd of raving nutters’, ‘all belong in’ and ‘lunatic asylum’.)

      • Jennwith2ns says:

        Shame about the architect, but thanks for the acceptance into your University! When do I start? What books do I need? (Actually, I’m probably already reading some of them.)

        • pendantry says:

          Serendipitously, there’s a post that’s just opened up: Curriculum Designer Extraordinaire. Interested? :)

          • Jennwith2ns says:

            Yes. First item on the agenda: an interdisciplinary study combining aspects of both Phlyarology and Procrastination. We can call it the pp study . . .

            (I forget. Do British people understand the term “pee pee”?)

          • pendantry says:

            Excellent, that’s what I like to hear!

            Pee pee, yes. And I seem to recall that number twos were ‘ca ca’ when I was undergoing potty training. Which always makes me smile whenever I see two Ford Kas going by: and they in turn remind me of the Crapee in Ben Elton’s ‘Gridlock’ :)

          • Jennwith2ns says:

            Heh. Nice. I mean, “nice.”

            I wrote a great comment, but WordPress is obviously opposed to this quantity of phlyarology, and it disappeared when I hit “reply.”

            I don’t think I have the energy to reconstruct it–at least at this point–but believe me when I say it carried on both the phlyarological and scatalogical themes nicely.

          • pendantry says:

            Oh, not not so nice. I’ve been there, and sympathise entirely. Some time ago I began to train myself to ‘select all, copy’ frequently on larger posts as insurance against machines that not only don’t do what they say on the tin but actively fight against their design intent*. Such nonsense is a perfect phlyarological fit.

            * Yes, I’m well aware that I shouldn’t anthropomorphise machines. The main reason, of course, being that they simply don’t like it.

          • pendantry says:

            PS After a little digging, I think I’ve found the cause of the problem. It seems to be a case of resistentialism: “the seemingly spiteful behavior shown by inanimate objects”.

  5. Jennwith2ns says:


    Yesterday I anthropomorphised my kayak . . . mostly because I still can’t figure out how to get into it without falling in the water first.

  6. I met with this one already and liked it. I hope you’ll hang on on Awad board. It’s a good place but could do with some rejuvenation and healthy pedantry. :-)

  7. Wyrd Smythe says:

    What do you think about Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series for inclusion in the list of world class phlyarologists? HHGttG is a supernova that outshines just about anything, but Discworld is a global cluster of delightful, wonderful stars.

  8. Pingback: Goldilocks zone, planet, idea | Wibble

  9. Sorry to resurrect and obviously old topic but your definition of -logy is in and of itself flawed (as most who are linguistically challenged usually are in these instances) as the Greek root does not strictly mean “the study of” nor is it even -logy. The true “roots” are “logia” which means to speak or tell and “logos” which means a written narrative, account or explanation. There is no Greek root that directly means “to study” that even resembles logia or logos.

    If -logy only meant “the study of” then words like chronology, eulogy, apology and trilogy would mean entirely different things. Eulogy and apology are referring to the spoken or written word which is what phlyarology would also be referring to.

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