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New York Times Book News

Books Of Style: 9 Books That Would Make Great Gifts
A selection of novels, nonfiction and whodunits for readers on your gift list.

ArtsBeat: Book Review Podcast: Disappearing Religions
Gerard Russell talks about “Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms,” and Phil Zuckerman discusses “Living the Secular Life.”

Word of the Day


Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 19, 2014 is:

syncretic • \sin-KRET-ik\  • adjective
: characterized or brought about by a combination of different forms of belief or practice

Dr. Portman practices a syncretic form of medicine, borrowing from both Eastern and Western medical traditions.

"Her CV cites disparate accomplishments as a scientist, writer, and artist—and teacher…. Moreover, her career arc represents a syncretic impulse that characterizes her general outlook on life." — Glen Martin, Forbes, November 4, 2014

Did you know?
Syncretic has its roots in an ancient alliance. It's a descendant of the Greek word synkrētismos, meaning "federation of Cretan cities"—syn- means "together, with," and Krēt- means "Cretan." The adjective first appeared in English in the mid-19th century, and the related noun syncretism debuted over 200 years earlier. Syncretic retains the idea of coalition and appears in such contexts as "syncretic religions," "syncretic societies," and even "syncretic music," all describing things influenced by two or more styles or traditions. The word also has a specific application in linguistics, where it refers to a fusion of inflectional forms.