Word of the Day – Apologia


: a defense especially of one’s opinions, position, or actions

Did You Know?

As you might expect, apologia is a close relative of apology. Both words derive from Late Latin; apologia came to English as a direct borrowing while apology traveled through Middle French. The Latin apologia derives from a combination of the Greek prefix apo-, meaning “away from,” and the word logia, from Greek lógos, meaning “speech.” In their earliest English uses, apologia and apology meant basically the same thing: a formal defense or justification of one’s actions or opinions. Nowadays, however, the two are distinct. The modern apology generally involves an admission of wrongdoing and an expression of regret for past actions, while an apologia typically focuses on explaining, justifying, or making clear the grounds for some course of action, belief, or position.


“Susan Sontag, probably the most influential writer on the intersection of violence and photography, didn’t buy this argument. With forensic prose, she cut through complacent apologias for war photography and set photojournalistic images of violence squarely in the context of viewers’ voyeurism.” — Teju Cole, The New York Times Magazine, 24 May 2018

“And then there are the countless physicists and biologists who, throughout the 20th century, contributed expertise to building and improving weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps this explains why [Neil deGrasse] Tyson eventually co-wrote a book called Accessory to War, the subtitle of which—’The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military’—surely stands as an apologia for his previous blunder.” — W. Patrick McCray, The Los Angeles Review of Books, 9 Nov. 2020

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