Is "initiatic" a legitimate adjective in English?

The available sources seem to differ: on-line Collins ignores it, and so does Merriam-Webster, while Reverso gives it full blessing even offering its Italian, German and French counterparts (“iniziatico”, “initiatisch”, “initiatique”) - but it could be just a figment of their AI’s imagination. And Etymonline quotes its relatives “initiation” and “initiate” but not “initiatic”.
On paper the great Langenscheidt (German-English) doesn’t mention it and an authoritative SEI (Italian-English) proposes a not very convincing “initiatory” instead.

Just to clarify the obvious, an “initiatic(?) language” is (or should be) the arcane parlance used by the adepts of a sect, guild, profession, religion or whatnot, meant to intimidate the layman and to prevent him from fathoming the depth of their shallowness. If memory serves, in my green years even the boy-scouts had one, comprehensive of a few cryptic words (all of them duly capitalized) a novice wasn’t allowed to utter before taking his Oath.

I understand that my question has little to do with the etymology of this somewhat unusual term, but I can hardly think of a better environment where to ask it. Will you bear with me?

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Well, the way English works, all that has to happen for a word to become legitimate is that people use it. A search on Google Books immediately turns up two fairly new Spirituality books that have the word in the titles.


Thank you Talia, I suppose you’re right - “est usus qui facit linguas”, and definitely not just in English.
Upon a second thought, if in everyday talk people accept and [pretend to] understand “words” like TTYL, WYSIWYG and ASAP, I don’t see why they should scowl at a much easier to guess “initiatic” :laughing:

Thus I should perhaps shift my question to “would it make any sense to add ‘initiatic’ to Etymonline, or is the word too far away from the common commercial routes?”

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Done. Initiatic.


Seems to be a suffix issue at most

There’s little doubt about that.
But unless you feel very at home with a language or you’re joking, coining new words in it may lead to funny surprises, more often than not detrimental to your credibility. Hence my cowardly caution :wink:

Anyway prefixes and suffixes aren’t just lexical frills: quite often they are a fully fledged part of the word that can drastically change its meaning or even its word class - cf. lightness and lightless, manhood and manlike… it would be a long, long list.

It seems obvious to me, orthographically, that “Ttyl” is an ancient and obscure Welsh term that English has only recently discovered.

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Which would be corroborated by the fact that recent archaeological research in Wales’ soil couldn’t reveal a significant presence of copper, thus suggesting that in very ancient times they were lacking a landline proper, which in turn must have encouraged the intensive use of a mobile network.

Whereas I would hesitate to trace “Wysiwyg” to an unattested Proto-Slavic language: the vague morphological and phonetic resemblance to modern Polish is far from enough to support such an airy-fairy hypothesis.

Ancient Welsh again, this one much more clear-cut in its simplicity: “wy siwgr”, though it originally referred literally to custard, gradually took on the meaning of “nice idea, but let’s see how it turns out in practice”. Which is indeed my opinion when making custard.


:rofl: Just brilliant!!! :rofl:

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