13 February 2010


This word comes courtesy of a Merle Regal crossword puzzle in the 7 February 2010 Seattle Times. It was one of those words that was nearly all filled in save one letter, and it just doesn't look like anything (OPS_MATH) and has one holding his head in despair. I grabbed my old broken down Webster Collegiate off the dining room table and - nothing. Look at the puzzle again. Damn. Google to the rescue: there it is. The first really useful hit other than Wikipedia was from alphadictionary.com, and I will provide the link here to their entry for this most contemporary of words.

I suppose an opsimath is what I am, having gone to school at the age of 49. I hope I will continue to learn new things for the rest of my life. Study is not the drudgery I thought it was in my youth -- but then today I get to pick the subject.


An opsimath can refer to a person who begins, or continues, to study or learn late in life.[1] The word is derived from the Greek οψε (opse), meaning 'late' and μανθανω (manthano), meaning 'learn'.[2]

Opsimathy was once frowned upon, used as a put down with implications of laziness,[3] and considered less effective by educators than early learning.[4] However, the opsimath population is increasing in the USA,[5] and the emergence of "opsimath clubs"[6] proves that opsimathy is no longer looked down upon,[7] but is in fact desirable.[8]

Notable opsimaths include Joseph Henry Blackburne, the leading English chess player in the late 19th Century, who didn't learn the chess moves until the comparatively late age of 19.[9]

[Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opsimath.]