When in Rome…

Even after all of these years in school, it still happens. I am in class, having a great time and learning so much when someone throws out a word that I either do not know or can’t remember what it means. Extra levels of mortification happen if the question is directed right at me or if everyone around me seems to know exactly what is going on.

These days I try to remind myself that I am still learning the language of my career and it is okay if I need to jog my word memory. If you look around, you quickly realize that every profession uses words and phrasing that sounds made-up to the outsider. If you are at the doctor’s office they might use “choledocholithiasis” to tell you your gallbladder has stones or “xerostomia” to describe your dry mouth. Lawyers throw out words like “tort reform” or “prima facie” probably forgetting that we may not know what they are talking about.

So, in case this happens to you one day, here are some words that I remember stumped me in my first few years of school:

* espistemological: the inquiry and/or discussion into the process of how one gains knowledge. The main question revolving around what is true/truth.

* eschatology: the Greek word, “eschaton” (meaning “last”) refers to the last days of the world as we know it. “Eschatology” is then the theological study that seeks to understand the purpose of people and history as it moves toward this divine conclusion.

* homiletics: the discipline of preparing and delivering a sermon.

* pneumatological: dealing and exploring with the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

* exegesis: the process of seeking to understand the text and the meaning intended by the author.

* soteriology: the study of salvation.

* hermeneutics: the principles of how the reader gets meaning from the text or how the text should be interpreted, particularly sacred texts. Hermeneutics also focuses on the unique relationship between the author, the text, and the reader of the text.

* ontology: when speaking of something’s ontology, one is referring to its essential nature or being.

* cosmology: the attempt to understand the origin, nature, and/or subsequent history of the universe. In many ways, cosmology is where religion and science intersect.

* praxis: the responsive action or expression of the knowledge gained through one’s experience or reflection.

What about you? Have you come across any words that sound like they come from another planet? What are your favorite new words that you have come across?