λεξιθηρέω – word-hunting

From Aulus Gellius’ Attic Nights 2.9

In bringing this charge [of an incorrectly used word] against Epicurus Plutarch is “word-hunting” with excessive minuteness and almost with frigidity; for far from hunting up such verbal meticulousness and such refinements of diction, Epicurus hunts them down.

Nimis minute ac prope etiam subfrigide Plutarchus in Epicuro accusando λεξιθηρεῖ Has enim curas vocum verborumque elegantias non modo non sectatur Epicurus, sed etiam insectatur.

I enjoy Gellius’ verb here – λεξιθηρέω, a simple compound of ‘word’ (λέξις) and the verbal form of hunt (θήρα). It seems a near hapax in surviving works, though Clement uses a related noun λεξιθηρία in his Paedagogus (page 15 in this online version) and the grammarian Phrynicus Arabius (in Latin here) gives a few other related forms like λεξιθήρ and λεξιθήρας. For those two, Pape in his Greek-German dictionary gives the cleanest overall rendering of the idea with ein Wortjäger. The sense in Gellius and Clement (who denies he’s engaging in the activity) is fussy pedantism but we let that slide.

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