Definition of hapax legomenon in English:

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hapax legomenon

Pronunciation: /ˌhapaks ləˈɡäməˌnän/

noun (plural hapax legomena /ləˈɡämənə/)

A term of which only one instance of use is recorded.
Example sentences
  • In philology a hapax legomenon is almost always a word and is a problem because a single usage doesn't generally give us enough information to figure out what it means.
  • Moreover, many of the new words will occur only once; these are the so-called hapax legomena.
  • Grattius' diction - which includes numerous technical terms and hapax legomena - and versification are Augustan, but he does not always express himself lucidly.


Mid 17th century: Greek, 'a thing said once', from hapax 'once' and the passive participle of legein 'to say'.

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