Trivia · Word of the week

Word of the week: plangonologist

What does a plangonologist collect? The question appeared in Thomas Eaton’s Weekend Quiz in the Guardian a couple of days ago, phrased as follows: “A plangonologist collects what?” You can read the rest of the quiz, and the answers, here. The answer to the question also appears at the end of the next paragraph.

I am familiar with a handful of words that describe people who collect things, or are experts in specific areas. Philatelists collect stamps. Numismatists are coin collectors. Vexillology is all about flags. Tegestologists collect beermats or coasters. A plangonologist, and this was a new one on me until two days ago, collects dolls.

This site ( explains the derivation of the word “plangon”, or “plaggon”, for doll:

In ancient Greek theatre, women were not allowed to perform any roles. A wax doll “plaggon” was used in their stead. The “double gamma” has an “ng” sound, so the word became “plangon.” Another word which has the same change is “aggelos” which is “angel” in English.

The site also tells us that “plangonologist” has not yet made it to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary). If you search for words beginning “plango-” on the only entry is “plangorous” (“resonant or plaintive in sound; characterized by loud lamentation”), from a Latin root that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with dolls. Similarly, there is no entry for anything beginning “tege-”, so as things stand the OED doesn’t recognize the given words for people who collect beermats or dolls. They are in my vocabulary anyway. They’re bound to come up again in quizzes before too long.



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