Winged Words

Also found in: Idioms.

Winged Words


widely used apt words, figurative expressions, sayings of historical figures, short quotations, and names of mythological or literary figures that have become part of common usage. For example, “high-sounding nonsense” (M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin), “And who are the judges?” (A. S. Gribo-edov), “Hercules,” and “Oblomov.”

Winged words have their origin in classical and biblical myths, folklore, works of fiction, scholarly literature, journalism, memoirs, and speeches of political and social figures: “I came, I saw, I conquered” (Julius Caesar); “Appetite comes with eating” (F. Rabelais); “Administrative delight” (F. M. Dostoevskii); “From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step” (Napoleon). Certain winged words are not direct quotations from a definite source; rather, they are figurative expressions that are derived from a source and metaphorically convey its general sense: “forbidden fruit” (from biblical mythology), “Potemkin villages” (from 18th century memoirs). These expressions have long since lost direct ties with their original sources and with each historical period have acquired new meanings in conformity with the social and historical conditions of the time.

In their structure, winged words may be complete utterances such as “Après moi, le déluge” (Louis XV), phrases, or individual words that may be composed of the most varied syntactical elements, such as the word manilovshchina (Manilovism: smug complacency, inactivity, futile daydreaming; from Mani-lov, a character in Gogol’s Dead Souls). Winged words are the subject of studies of phraseology.


Mikhel’son, M. I. Russkaia mysV i rech’, Svoe i chuzhoe: Opyt russkoi frazeologii, vols. 1–2. No date or place of publication.
Zaimovskii, S. G. Krylatoe slovo. Moscow-Leningrad, 1930.
Maksimov, S. Krylatoe slovo. Moscow, 1955.
Ashukin, N. S., and M. G. Ashukina. Krylatye slova: Literaturnye tsitaty, Obraznye vyrazheniia, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1966.
Büchman, G. Geflügelte Worte, 30th ed. Berlin, 1961.


References in periodicals archive ?
Yet there is no trace of catharsis when I tell myself: a philosopher, very nearly a poet; so naked with all his winged words, so uncomprehended, so popular.
feet and winged words, Achilles resembles most of all the goddess Iris,
the winged words as both allude to the brevity of life, but they are
Swift feet and winged words characterize Achilles, aligning him
If the subject interests you Winged Words (Enitharmon, pounds 8.
The magazines were: Fagel Fenix (stenciled, six issues, 1975-77), called - as Ekman mentions - a "drugged-out jackdaw" by the sometime Stalinist Leif Salmen (thereby forging one of the winged words of Finland-Swedish literary criticism); Otid (seven numbers, 1979-82), edited "by former Communists who wanted to confess"; and KLO (six numbers, 1985-87), to which Ekman gives all honor and glory for a spirit of opposition to "the typical Finnish practice of thinking-in-organizations.
Two days after the coup came the winged words of righteousness from Foggy Bottom.
Winged Words might also be read in conjunction with such autobiographical pieces of Native American authors as those in I Tell You Now (Swann and Krupat, 1987).