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MONOSYLLABLE

MONOSYLLABLE, formerly also monosyllabon. A WORD of one SYLLABLE. ‘Native’ English is often said to be inherently monosyllabic (‘Words monosillable which be for the more part our natural Saxon English,’ George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie, 1589), as opposed to polysyllabic Latinisms and other borrowings. Certainly, many common monosyllables are Germanic in origin (such as am, be, can, dog, eye, fox, gun, hot, it, jump, key, leap, mum, nut, odd, pot, queen, run, say, two, up, vat, who, you), but the same Germanic source also provides such POLYSYLLABLES as cold-bloodedly and longwindedness. The many monosyllables from non-Germanic sources include act and flex from Latin, bloc and joy from French, crag and loch from Gaelic, gong and kris from Malay, steppe and tsar from Russian, and gene and zone from Greek. A tendency to clip words does, however, provide some support for the idea of Anglo-Saxon monosyllabism (addiction to monosyllables or the quality of being monosyllabic), as with cred from the Latinate word credibility, mob from the Latin phrase mobile vulgus, and zoo from the hybrid Greco-Latin and vernacular zoological gardens. A person who is monosyllabic in style tends to be curt and keep to short words, especially simply yes and no. See CLIPPING.

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monosyllable

mon·o·syl·la·ble / ˌmänəˈsiləbəl; ˈmänəˌsil-/ • n. a word consisting of only one syllable. ∎  (monosyllables) brief words, signifying reluctance to engage in conversation: if she spoke at all it was in monosyllables.

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