A winged word

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As a household word in is linguistics a recyclable to a specific source citation refers to this as a phrase input in the general usage has found. This often includes concise formulations of complicated facts or life experiences that are aptly "brought to the point". Winged words can u. a. take the form of aphorisms , bon mots , gnomes , sentences , sayings and proverbs .

Georg Büchmann's Winged Words , 12th edition from 1880


In European cultures, sources are often Latin or Greek idioms , as well as quotations from the Bible, in German especially in the version of Luther's translation . One example is Winged Words (Greek: ἔπεα πτερόεντα  - épea pteróenta ) itself. It occurs 46 times in the Iliad and 58 times in the Odyssey , and means spoken words that reach the listener's ears "on wings".

Chinese , for example, has a particularly rich treasure trove of winged words , which originally used exactly one character for each term ( isolating language ). There proverbs , excellent quotations and allusions from the entire classical literature as well as naturalized pictorial or onomatopoeic figures gradually form a lexical polysyllabic vocabulary (lexemes), so that modern Chinese is predominantly structured in polysyllabic practice.

Concept history

The Middle High German poet Heinrich von Meißen describes the proverb as a fully fledged word, as a word that can grow wings.

In his epic The Messiah of 1742, Klopstock used the phrase:

"He spoke winged words to them, then he sent them out among the retreating people."

- Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock : The Messiah, verse 222

Even Johann Heinrich Voss uses these words in his famous Homer adaptations. They are the loan translation of ἔπεα πτερόεντα "words with wings". Only since the publication of Georg Büchmann's collection of quotations, Winged Words in 1864, has the expression been used in the sense of

"Literarily verifiable, generally familiar phrases that have passed into the general vocabulary of the people ."

- Georg Büchmann

Büchmann's successor Walter Robert-tornow specified the term in the 14th edition published by him in 1884

"A winged word is a phrase, expression or name that is constantly cited in broader circles of the fatherland, regardless of the language, whose historical author or literary origin can be proven"

- Walter Robert-Tornow

The location of a quotation that gives the best-known formulation of a state of affairs that has historically become a standing phrase is called the locus classicus. This expression is also common for scientific statements or legal conclusions, for example.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Use of the term in Homer (English)
  2. ^ Zhu Jinyang, Karl-Heinz Best: On the word in modern Chinese. In: Oriens Extremus Vol. 35, No. 1/2 (1992), pp. 45-60 ( Repro, pdf , oriens-extremus.org; online , jstor.org);
    cf. also Ulrich Unger: Rhetoric of Classical Chinese. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 1994, ISBN 9783447036160 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  3. ^ Locus classicus . In: Merriam-Webster , online (accessed May 24, 2017).