[reading] Word for April: Parergon, n.


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Your word for April is: parergon, n.

parergon, n.
[‘Painting. Something subordinate or accessory to the main subject. Hence, more generally: ornamental addition, embellishment. Now rare.’]

Pronunciation: Brit. /pəˈrəːɡɒn/, U.S. /pəˈrərˌɡɑn/
Inflections: Plural parerga.
Forms: 16 parergaes plural, irreg., 16 parergas plural, irreg., 16– parergon.
Origin: A borrowing from Latin. Etymon: Latin parergon.
Etymology: < classical Latin parergon (or parergum; the nominative is not recorded) extra ornament or detail < ancient Greek πάρεργον by-work, subordinate or secondary business, use as noun of neuter singular of πάρεργος beside or in addition to the main work < παρα- para- prefix1 + ἔργον work (see erg n.1). Compare earlier parergy n.
Post-classical Latin parergon is recorded in the sense ‘something added to the main subject, esp. in painting’ in T. ElyotDict. (1538). Compare its use in a title of an English work in sense 2b:

1726 J. Ayliffe(title) Parergon Juris Canonici Anglicani: or, a commentary, by way of supplement to the Canons and Constitutions of the Church of England.
The double plurals parergaes, parergas perhaps indicate that the plural parerga was occasionally mistaken for a singular.
1. Painting. Something subordinate or accessory to the main subject. Hence, more generally: ornamental addition, embellishment. Now rare.
1601 P. Holland tr. Pliny Hist. World II. 542 He painted among those by~works (which painters call Parerga[L. parergia, v. rr. parerga]) certaine small gallies and little long barks, to show therby the small beginnings of his art.
1612 H. Peacham Graphice 45 For your Parergas or needlesse graces, you may set forth the same with Farm~houses, Water-mills, Pilgrims travelling, &c.
1656 T. Blount Glossographia at Landskip All that which in Picture is not of the body or argument thereof is Landskip, Parergon, or by-work.
1724 R. Wodrow Life J. Wodrow(1828) 68 These were the proper parerga to and the gentlemanly learning of a minister.

2003 A. Fowler Renaissance Realism i. 17 Long before independent landscapes, such parerga achieved impressive effects of recession.
a. Secondary or supplementary work or business; work that is subsidiary to one's ordinary employment.arch. in later use.
1607 T. Walkington Optick Glasse 1. 3 sig. M2v Yet am I not plunged ouer head and ears in Parergaes.
?c1622 E. Bolton Hypercritica(1722) iv. iv For that the Subject..is rather Parergon, then the thing it self I write of.
1672 O. Walker Of Educ. i. xiv. 196 I advise to, but onely as a parergon, not an employment.
1776 J. Bentham Fragm. on Govt. Pref. p. xi The work of censure, as it may be styled, or, in a certain sense, of criticism, was to him but a parergon—a work of supererogation.
1897 Athenæum 9 Jan. 51/3 [He] pursued astronomy as a parergon (to use his own favourite phrase).
1957 H. Nicolson Let. 2 Oct. (1968) 339 I don't think that you [sc. Vita Sackville-West] will really go down to posterity as a writer of gardening articles. You will be remembered as a poet... So your gardening things will be regarded as a mere parergon (‘a bye-work’), like the flute-playing of Frederick the Great.
b. A piece of work that is supplementary to or a by-product of a larger work; an opuscule.
1928 W. M. Wheeler Foibles of Insects & Men p. vii For some time friends have been urging me to republish in book form some of my papers which have appeared in various scientific journals. The continued demand for these parerga..suggests that they may, perhaps, be of interest to readers who do not habitually consult scientific journals.
1963 Times 15 Feb. 6/6 At the end of the programme he and his orchestra played the suite of Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, a parergon of the musical show, and a very distinguished one.
1975 Times Lit. Suppl. 16 May 531/2 Henry Bradley's The Making of English..is what it is only because it arose as an inspired parergon to its author's main work as co-editor of the great Oxford Dictionary.
1995 O. Lee First Intermissions xxi. 221 Incredibly, only one chapter of this indispensible parergon has been translated into English.