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What Does “Sophomore” Mean? Can It Be an Insult?

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Of the four tiers of high school, sophomore is the year that stands out as strange. Freshman, junior, and senior are relatively clear monikers for their associated levels, and it’s funny that in school, the place where you are most expected to know the how and why of everything, second-year students are called by a term whose roots are abstruse. Then there is the problem of the word sophomoric. We apologize in advance, but this is the actual definition: “suggestive of or resembling the traditional sophomore; intellectually pretentious, overconfident, conceited, etc., but immature.”

Sophomore derives from an earlier English term, sophumer, which is a variation of the Greek sophism, “clever device.” (A competing folk etymology holds that it is a portmanteau of sophos, “wise”, and moros meaning ”foolish, dull.”) A sophist is literally “one who is wise,” but the term became derogatory in Greek culture because it seemed a little unwise (or simply arrogant) to proclaim about one’s own wisdom. Teachers with more humility came to be known as philosophers, literally “lovers of wisdom.”

The term in question was first applied to second-year students in college, not high school. At Cambridge University (founded in 1209), second- and third-year students were called sophisters. Perhaps their arguments weren’t expected to be as lucid as those of upperclassmen. By the late 1600s, this appellation had morphed in sophomore. (First-year students were freshmen, fresh to the field of philosophical debate, and thus free from the grueling discipline of oral argument.) Many centuries later in the mid-1800s, sophomoric acquired the negative adjectival sense mentioned above. Perhaps the best part of being a sophomore is that it doesn’t last forever.

Any other school words you’d like us to explore? Let us know.

MALACHOWSKI ON ROAD TO RECOVERY

US Fed News Service, Including US State News December 25, 2009 EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa., Dec. 13 — East Stroudsburg University issued the following news release:

On the outside, Briana Malachowski looked fine considering what had just happened.

Around 10:30 a.m. on June 13, Malachowski, a Bangor High School graduate and standout on the East Stroudsburg University women’s golf team, was on her way from her parents’ home in Mount Bethel to her job, at Kelly’s Ice Cream, a seasonal stand in Portland, when she lost control of her Jeep Wrangler.

According to a report in the Easton Express-Times, Malachowski’s Jeep struck a wire guide rail, snapping the wire and sending the vehicle into an embankment. The Jeep’s hard top broke in half and Malachowski was ejected through it.

The accident happened about two miles from the Malachowski’s home so her mother, Linda, father, Jim, and brother, Brandon, were all at the scene within minutes.

“When I got to Briana she didn’t look like she was really hurt just looking at her physically,” Jim Malachowski said. “She had a little scratch on her nose and a little blood, but I could tell inside she was banged up pretty bad.” Linda Malachowski was returning to the family home on River Road, the same road the accident happened on, when she came upon the accident.

“I had asked the people there if they needed any help,” she said. “They said a girl had rolled her Jeep and I said, ‘Oh my god!’ and I asked what color it was and they told me it was gray and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s Briana!’ I just screamed her name, I yelled to her, and she yelled back to me, ‘Mommy, help me!’” A bad left knee that was due to be surgically replaced kept Linda Malachowski from reaching her daughter. go to website easton express times

Brandon Malachowski, 25, had made his way down to his little sister and knew something was wrong, but not the severity.

“There was no physical damage,” he said. “Looking at her, she had a scratch. I was watching her chest and could see that her chest was going real small and that her breathing was shallow and that her leg was in pain, but she was kind of a little in and out of it. There was a lot going on at that time.” Shortly after the accident, Briana came to, laying in the weeds near by, trying to figure out where she was and what had happened.

“I didn’t know where I was and I thought it was a dream; I had no idea,” said Malachowski, a two-time All-Colonial League first-team softball player and twice a third-place finisher in the District 11 golf tournament and PIAA qualifier at Bangor. “I woke up in the weeds, and my hair was all over my face because it was wet that morning, and I passed out. Then I woke up again and I tried to figure out where I was and everything was washing around me. It felt like everything was going so slow.” Once she figured out that railroad tracks were near, Briana knew the Met-Ed electric plant in Mount Bethel was close by. She also knew she was down off the road.

“I started to call out because I thought nobody could see me because I heard cars going by,” Briana said. “I figured out where the road was and I started to crawl towards the road. My dad said it looked like I crawled about 15 feet and then I couldn’t do it anymore.” Only once Briana was medevaced to St. Luke’s Hospital in the Fountain Hill Borough of Bethlehem did her family know how badly she was injured.

A great deal of damage was done when she was ejected through the Jeep’s hard top. The list of injuries was long and severe. Briana broke her thoracic spine and all of her ribs, had fractures in her neck, suffered a concussion, a collapsed left lung and partially collapsed right lung. Her left hip had been dislocated and she had a blood clot in her carotid artery, the last of which was not discovered until before her surgery.

“When we got to the hospital we were greeted by the clergymen and I knew that wasn’t good,” Linda Malachowski said. “The clergymen brought us to X-ray and (the doctor) told us that, ‘Your daughter is in very, very critical condition.’ Her body was literally separated and twisted.” “My spine was dislocated and pushed to (the left) side and (the doctor) said it was centimeters from my spinal cord,” Briana said.

Surgery was scheduled for 8 a.m. the following day, a Sunday.

That morning, Linda Malachowski recalled a moment as if it had just happened.

“It wasn’t until 10:21 (a.m.) that they came out and (told us they) got her in position,” she said. “It took them 2 hours and 21 minutes just to position her.” The surgery was anything but smooth.

Twice the doctors thought that Briana had suffered a stroke, but both turned out to be equipment malfunctions. Still, the doctors proceeded with caution.

“They had to, they had no other choice,” Linda Malachowski said. “They had to go through with the surgery because either way she would have died. If the blood clot would move, it was right at the base of her neck, they said it would go to her brain and she would stroke, but if they didn’t put her back together she would die.” That’s where sports and their role in Briana’s life came into play.

“(The doctor) said that my back was so strong from playing golf and softball and keeping physically fit that it kept my bones intact more than a normal person,” Briana said. “He said anyone my mom’s age probably would have been dead.” The surgery took six hours. Rods, plates and screws were inserted into her spine.

“If I was to turn my side to you it looks like a ladder,” Briana said.

Over the next week, the medical staff at St. Luke’s kept a close eye on her progress.

Thoughts and prayers poured in from every facet of Briana’s life. Roseann Malachowski, her grandmother from Arizona, made the cross-country trip to be by her side. The physical education department at Bangor sent roses. Larry Ott, her softball coach at Bangor, Lori Poliskiewicz, one of her health and phys. ed teachers at Bangor, Dustin McCormick, the golf coach at ESU, and Kelly Taylor, her boss at Kelly’s Ice Cream, all visited.

“I had so many visitors,” Briana said.

After a 10-day stay, she was discharged from the hospital and the road to recovery began.

Every day was a new challenge. The simplest of tasks, washing her hair or changing her shirt, became a chore to complete. The independence that had made up a big part of who she had become was missing, too.

“Mentally she was a little scared in the beginning, tentative about being alone,” Jim Malachowski said. “I think that was the biggest fear for her. Somebody was always with her, always.” Slowly, Briana’s family began to see glimpses of the old her.

Although she couldn’t participate on the annual family fishing trip to Pulaski, N.Y., Briana learned to tie flies from John Pysher, a member of the Malachowski’s church, the United Methodist Church in East Bangor. She learned well. go to site easton express times

“Every year they go salmon fishing and she didn’t get to go, but they caught fish off the flies that she tied,” Linda Malachowski said. “That kept her busy, too.” Briana’s mom taught her a few things about the family business, Malachowski & Son Plumbing and Heating, LLC. She played her guitar, which she initially learned how to play from her uncle Tony Malachowski and continued to teach herself. She took an online course at ESU.

Ryan Koehler, Briana’s boyfriend, made daily visits.

One constant through it all was Lacey, the family’s English Springer Spaniel. No matter where Briana went or what she did, Lacey wasn’t far behind.

“She was a big healer for Briana, she really was,” Jim Malachowski said. “Two or 3 o’clock in the morning (Briana) would get up to go for a walk and Lacey would get up and follow her wherever she went. Every step right by her feet. It was really something to see. An animal knows when somebody is hurt.” As time went on the injuries healed. First the neck brace came off. She goes to the doctor this week to see if the back brace, which has been on since the accident, can come off as well.

When she first started the rehabilitation process at Coordinated Health in East Stroudsburg, Briana could only lift five pounds. That’s now increased to 25.

Her eyes remain focused on the future, especially her golf game.

When Briana first arrived at ESU, softball was her sport, but that changed before her junior year. McCormick, in charge of running the first-year program, made it known that she was more than welcome to play.

“He wanted me to play, he wanted me on the team,” Briana said. “I was very excited. At that time I was upset. I wanted to play something at ESU. I wanted to keep active in sports. For Dustin to say that he wanted me on the team was very exciting.” Her level of play soared.

After a solid fall season, Briana medaled in two of the three tournaments ESU played in this past spring. Sports weren’t the only thing she excelled at.

While at Bangor she won the National Gold Award for a clay pottery piece Briana called the, ‘Pocket Pot.’ It first went to a regional contest for students from Berks, Lehigh and Northampton Counties. After winning a regional award, it made its way to the national level with over 200,000 other works of art from 80 regional programs. Hers was one of just 1,200 to earn either a gold or silver medal.

“She’s not just a softball player or a golfer,” Jim Malachowski said. “She does everything. There’s nothing that Briana’s afraid to do.” That includes moving forward, in every part of her life, from that day on River Road. To not do so wouldn’t be like Briana.

“Life has changed, but the desire, the drive is still there,” Linda Malachowski said. “Briana is the type of girl that no matter what she’s doing she’s going to do it the best that she can. She’s very strong and always was very strong. Even though she’s tiny she was always very strong and not just muscular.

38 Comments

  1. ALMOND -  June 16, 2014 - 6:34 pm

    Me to teacher: “imma sophomore now! even the name sounds more sophisticated!”

    Reply
  2. Mrs j Taylor -  March 15, 2014 - 7:56 am

    I’m am old English person and I was wondering where the name came from,now I know.

    Reply
  3. Kate -  October 25, 2010 - 9:43 am

    What about juniors and seniors?? I’m assuming they’re self explanatory but still…

    Reply
  4. how to cure premature ejaculation -  October 20, 2010 - 5:50 pm

    Loved this quality post. I’m just happy I joined your blog a couple of days ago, and I would suggest that other people reading this right now do the same. I’m sure, you won’t regret it.

    Reply
  5. Laura Nass -  September 29, 2010 - 10:53 pm

    Thank you Curly… makes sense.

    Reply
  6. Curly Hair -  September 2, 2010 - 8:48 am

    @Laura Nass: “More” is from the Greek “mōros”, which means dull or unintelligent. Think “moron” – it has the same root.

    @wazzup pplz: “Freshman” literally means “fresh man” – a person who is new, or “fresh”.

    Reply
  7. ummmmm ya know -  September 1, 2010 - 7:58 am

    you people are so weird and who cares if they are wise fools if thats the case what are jr.s??????????

    Reply
  8. #1 Skillet fan -  August 30, 2010 - 11:24 am

    with “Soph” meaning “wise” and “more” meaning “Fool”, wouldn’t that be an oxymoron?

    Reply
  9. Sir Mike Tallon, PhD -  August 30, 2010 - 11:08 am

    What does alumni really mean? I still don’t know how to use it.

    Reply
  10. wazzup pplz -  August 30, 2010 - 8:59 am

    I am a freshman so i’m wondering what ‘freshman’ means after reading all this

    and no americans arn’t wierd i think we’re just ‘complexer’ than some other countries…

    Reply
  11. Rich Durst -  August 30, 2010 - 7:26 am

    Because this is the Internet, sentient. You’ll find trolls just about everywhere.

    Reply
  12. sentient -  August 29, 2010 - 4:55 pm

    Why are there trolls on an informational site? :/

    Reply
  13. DENIM AND JEANS | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  August 29, 2010 - 4:13 pm

    [...] and put the booty pads in the jeans? — Coveralls and Overalls is someplace in our obscenely SOPHOMORIC dreams. — The destination and journey are not always as it seems. — Open communication with a [...]

    Reply
  14. Andy -  August 29, 2010 - 2:20 pm

    Sophomore could also be a derivative of two Greek words: “sophos” & “moros”:translated wise & fool, or wise fool.

    Reply
  15. Will -  August 29, 2010 - 1:39 pm

    “Sophia” is Greek and means “wise”. “More” is also Greek and means “fool”. The term sophomore literally means “wise fool”.

    Reply
  16. Articulate Sucks. -  August 29, 2010 - 1:22 pm

    Look @Articulate wagging his big, brainy totem, trying to imply that someone’s typo (synyax) indicates his inferiority. Articulate’s head, replete with gray matter that it cannot contain, has spouts for ears; the gray matter oozes out of them and drips onto his keyboard as he meticulously reads and re-reads his own comments, correcting typos, so that nobody could ever make a fool of HIM. Is he afraid that what’s oozing out is actually not gray matter, but bullshit?

    Reply
    • WordFreak -  May 23, 2014 - 10:18 pm

      I spy a typographical error in your post too.

      “Synyax”?
      The word was syntax last time I looked (two seconds ago).

      Reply
  17. hksche2000 -  August 29, 2010 - 1:03 pm

    Simply put, sophomore translates into “a little wiser” (as compared to a freshman).
    It is delineated from greek “sophos,sophae,sophon” (knowledgeable,wise), rather than from “sophistic(al)” with its phony and fallacious (dialectic) implications. The author has it right: “Sophomore derives from an earlier English term, sophumer” (mer = german “mehr”),i.e. “wise (a little) more”. However, the author incorrectly asserts: “(sophumer), is a variation of the Greek sophism, “clever device”, instead of deriving it from its true etymologic origin: “sophos”=knowledgeable.

    Reply
  18. Don Paco -  August 29, 2010 - 10:51 am

    You folks are not only wrong about “Upper Classmen”, as ReverseUmlaut pointed out, but you are mistaken on the origin of Sophmore.
    It comes from two root words: sophos, meaning knowledgeable; and mores, meaning customs or morals. And by the way, can you please stop discussing “Words of the Day” which are obsolete, not having been in popular speech since the 18th or 19th Century?

    Reply
  19. WALNUT -  August 29, 2010 - 7:59 am

    AT 88 I SUBSCRIBE TO BEING……..; intellectually pretentious, overconfident, conceited, etc., but immature.” EMPHASIS ON THE LATTER. I HAVE ALWAYS LIKED TO MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH AND FEEL GOOD AND HAVE NO INTENTION OF STOPPING. WITH THIS DEFINITION THEY CAN FEEL SUPERIOR WITHOUT OVERTAXING THEMSELVES. HAPPY HA HA TO YOU.

    Reply
  20. ReverseUmlaut -  August 29, 2010 - 7:13 am

    Cambridge degrees usually last three years, so the reference to “upperclassmen” (not a term used in the UK) is meaningless – the second and third year “sophisters” are the equivalent of upperclassmen.

    Reply
  21. jp3 -  August 29, 2010 - 7:06 am

    My father has told us about the origin and meaning of Sophomore ever since his grandchildren were approaching high school age. At every family gathering, he would recount this discussion. If he were willing to get on a computer, this article would make his day. And since his memory is now gone, he could revisit this site eveyday and get another sense of satisfaction.
    Happy Birthday Dad!

    Reply
  22. Mulugeta Haile -  August 29, 2010 - 5:23 am

    one of the advantage of sophomore to speak fluently than what they speak naturally really crucial specially for university as well as speakers.

    Reply
  23. Articulate -  August 29, 2010 - 4:50 am

    Then look up “lucid”.

    Reply
  24. Articulate -  August 29, 2010 - 4:47 am

    Earthling, Sophomore;

    You two should spend more time studying the English language, and less time commenting on it. I suggest you begin your edification with the words, “synyax” and “coherency”.

    Reply
  25. Phil -  August 29, 2010 - 4:25 am

    When my son helped with move-in-day of students at the U. of Dayton he was instructed not to use the term “freshman or freshmen” and (of all things) “dormitory.”

    Reply
  26. unfinished second BA -  August 29, 2010 - 3:22 am

    A sophomore has been incessantly provoked by a lovers of wisdom.

    Reply
  27. unfinished second BA -  August 29, 2010 - 3:22 am

    A sophomore has been incessantly provoked by a lovers of wisdom.

    Reply
  28. Anon -  August 29, 2010 - 12:22 am

    I had always heard that one student in ancient Greece had insulted an underclassmen (of whose grade was equivalent to our 10th grade) by calling him a “sophomore” or “wise fool,” as it would translate.

    Reply
  29. ummmm ya reckon -  August 28, 2010 - 11:03 pm

    sophomore and all of that other stuff is confusing. americans are weird

    Reply
  30. a human being -  August 28, 2010 - 10:33 pm

    When I heard this as a sophomore last year, I first felt indignant, then laughed at the truth of it.

    @earthling: You almost stole my idea for a name! Oh, well. Great minds think alike. :D

    Reply
  31. Laura Nass -  August 28, 2010 - 9:33 pm

    A few decades ago I heard that “sophomore” meant “wise fool”. I’ve always wondered how they get that from “more”. Is there any truth to that half?

    –H

    Reply
  32. youve got the hell to pay -  August 28, 2010 - 6:36 pm

    Who is the audience here?

    Reply
  33. Trudge164 -  August 28, 2010 - 6:06 pm

    When I was in high school, we pronounced it “suffer-more”.

    Reply
  34. SOPHOMORE | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  August 28, 2010 - 8:17 am

    [...] there’s the Game Show — They’re playing to an audience that’s generally “SOPHOMORIC” including us — we missed the bus — for “DELUSIONS” and are generally [...]

    Reply
  35. an earthling -  August 27, 2010 - 6:13 pm

    One advantage of being a sophomore, that is “intellectually pretentious, overconfident, conceited, etc., but immature” does not get ignored but get refuted back from someone who enjoys taking the wind out of opponents’ sails for whatever reasons at any cost.

    Reply

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