Saturday, June 19, 2010


I came across an unfamiliar term while reading the fourth and final volume of Winston Churchill's A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (Barnes & Nobel 2005), p. 125. The term is "philoprogenitiveness," and Churchill uses it to describe the Mormon colonization of Utah: "Within three years a flourishing community of eleven thousand souls, combining religious fervour, philoprogenitiveness, and shrewd economic sense, had been established by careful planning in the Salt Lake country, and in 1850 the territory received recognition by the Federal Government under the name of Utah."

The Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary (here) defines "philoprogenitiveness" as a love of offspring or prolific production of offspring. I probably should have been able to figure that out merely from taking the word apart. Nevertheless, I find it surprising that Churchill would have used such a complex term to describe something so simple in what is supposed to be a popular history book. Or, perhaps, most people know the meaning of "philoprogenitiveness" on sight, and I'm just unusually ignorant.

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