The word “plagiodoxy” came to me in a familiar place: in front of a classroom of introductory geology students. I was trying to connect the sometimes arcane jargon of the science with ordinary experiences the students were familiar with. In this case, I was working my way through the mineral group called feldspar, trying to make semantic connection with the two sub-groups, orthoclase and plagioclase. So I was chatting about ortho-dontists, ortho-pedists and ortho-doxy. I ended up saying something like “I suppose if you wanted crooked teeth, you would go to a plagiodontist. If you wanted crooked bones, you would go to a plagiopedist. If you wanted to learn to think on the slant, you would go to a plagiodox institution. That’s called “college”.
I’m not sure even now what it means exactly. Of course, what it means is not up to me alone. Like children, words have lives of their own. You can participate in their conception, you can hope to provide guidance. But ultimately it is not up to you.