What’s an agora?

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Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: agora.

When I read Kathryn Schulz’s rousing article about Twitter, I blogged on it. Then I pondered the meaning of a word she’d used that I didn’t recognize: agora.

Here is the sentence in which it appeared:

They’re immensely generous with their time and knowledge; in contradistinction to most Internet agoras, the Twitter I know is helpful, polite, and friendly. 

What on earth is an agora, I wondered? If I’d had my head on straight, I would have immediately noticed its similarity to the word agoraphobia, which, as most of know, refers to someone who is afraid of open spaces.

Agora is a Greek word meaning, literally, an “assembly place,” or an “open space” that was typically a marketplace. The ancient agora of  classical Athens (pictured above) is the best-known example. I find it interesting that Schulz used such an old-fashioned word to illustrate such a modern concept. But, indeed, it’s the perfect word!

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