Today’s Hot Word is Cognoscenti, n.plural
The Hot Word cognoscenti is for those in the know, the people with superior and informed knowledge in a special field; those with highly refined taste and impeccable standards, especially in the area of fine arts. (As opposed to the area of waste removal for instance.) This Vocabulary Vitamin has been used to mean connoisseur and expert, one with an inside track. All true cognoscenti know things that are hidden from the yokels, the newcomers, the casual observers and the uninitiated.
So is it any wonder that the incognizant have begun resenting the cognoscenti for being so cognizant? After all, if they know so much, then they know how much we don’t know.
What are the cognoscenti saying, have you heard?
We hang on their every wise, witty word.
But when about the cognoscenti we do tell
We must not forget and absentmindedly spell
Do Italian Vocabulary Vitamins have more garlic?
Cognoscenti is an Italian word we borrow unashamedly and often use ironically. It is the plural of cognoscente. In modern Italian the word is now conoscente or conoscitore, but in English we defiantly retain the obsolete “g,” and who’s to stop us?
Does the Hot Word of the Day have Italian friends?
A semi-related Italian word discussed In Mr. Pedantic’s forum on Using English, also borrowed by the English speaking, is: literato. “A literato is a cognoscente in the field of literature.” The plural is literati. So there you have it, a free mini Vocabulary Vitamin supplement.
How do the cognoscenti differ from the intelligentsia, you ask?
And Ms. Mology (Etta) congratulates you on that astute question. The Intelligentsia are the most intelligent, intellectual, or highly educated members of a society or community. According to answers.com, the word is from the early 20th century Russian интеллигенция or intelligentsiya (in case you can’t read Russian), also Latin, intelligentia. Presumably, the intelligentsia are good at thinking; the cognoscenti are good at knowing. But one can be the other, and often is.
Does this Hot Word of the day describe members of the media?
The media, of course, would count themselves among the condescendi, oops I mean the cognoscenti, as in this example:
In the “New York Observer,” Rex Reed refers to “The Cannes cognoscenti and the limousine liberals” as those whose superior taste should be consulted rather than those in “Punkin Cric.”
And in the “National Review” Jonah Goldberg uses this Vocabulary Vitamin, saying: “The cognoscenti lost, and they can’t help taking it out on the yokels.” Moral muddle by Goldberg, Jonah
The Hot Word found yet again: “Most visitors to the gallery will pass by Morandi’s paintings of jugs and bottles without a second glance. To the cognoscenti, however, their muted greys, browns, and blues are endlessly appealing.”
Having given you such a Hot Word of the Day (cognoscenti) plus two Vocabulary Vitamin supplements:(literati and intelligentsia), Ms. Mology needs to cool off now.
Pronunciation: ˌkän-yə-ˈshen-tē, ˌkäg-nə-, -ˈsen- Listen to it here.
Function: noun. Inflected Form(s): plural co• gno• scen• ti
Etymology: obsolete Italian (now conoscente), from cognoscente, adjective, wise, from Latin cognoscent-, cognoscens, present participle of cognoscere
“cognoscenti.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010.Merriam-Webster Online. 1 June 2010