Word of the Day – Mimesis


: imitation, mimicry

Did You Know?

Mimesis is a term with an undeniably classical pedigree. Originally a Greek word, it has been used in aesthetic or artistic theory to refer to the attempt to imitate or reproduce reality since Plato and Aristotle. Mimesis is derived from the Greek verb mimeisthai, which means “to imitate” and which itself comes from mimos, meaning “mime.” The English word mime also descends from mimos, as do mimic and mimicry. And what about mimeograph, the name of the duplicating machine that preceded the photocopier? We can’t be absolutely certain what the folks at the A. B. Dick Company had in mind when they came up with Mimeograph (a trademark name that has since expired), but influence from mimos and its descendants certainly seems probable.


“Art preserves, through mimesis, what no longer exists, offers a permanent record of impermanent reality—in this way, it can be not only a comfort but a remedy for grief.” — Jackson Arn, The Forward (New York), 13 June 2020

“You know how everyone always says that life imitates art, well the Greeks had a word for that: mimesis. Mimetic words imitate, or mimic, ideas.” — Gary Reddin, The Lawton (Oklahoma) Constitution, 20 May 2020

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