hapax legomenon /ha-PAKS lə-GAW-mə-nawn/. noun. A word that occurs only once in a text, oeuvre or a body of literature (aka a corpus). Often abbreviated as just hapax. Surprisingly, 40–60% of large collections of text are made of hapaxes. Read more: Wikipedia. See also: hapaxanthic (a plant that fruits and flowers only once). Borrowed from Greek hapax legomenon ([a thing] said only once).
“This is the Age of Complete Interconnection. No wires can hang loose; otherwise we all short-circuit. Yet, it is undeniable that life without individuality is not worth living. Every man must be a hapax legomenon…” (Philip Jose Farmer)
“The term for a word that only appears once in a text is hapax legomenon, which sounds like a character from an Asterix story, or a Scandinavian death metal band, and in this text appears only once.” (Alex Bellos)
“…where would their practice be or where the human race itself were the Pythagorean sesquipedalia of the panepistemion, however apically Volapucky, grunted and gromwelled, ichabod, habakuk, opanoff, uggamyg, hapaxle, gomenon, ppppfff, over country stiles, behind slated dwellinghouses, down blind lanes, or, when all fruit fails, under some sacking left on a coarse cart?” (James Joyce)
“…toad: I have followed Bottéro here. Other scholars have translated this hapax legomenon as ‘dwarf’, ‘mole,’ ‘spider’, or ‘scarecrow’.” (Stephen Mitchell)
“This reflects directly a period of experimentation (quite a lot of the relevant forms are hapax legomena, and we often find whole sets of formations with no apparent difference in meaning…)” (Geoffrey Horrocks)
“The old dictionary was ‘rather liberally sprinkled with hapax legomena,’ said Gove, referring to words that appeared but once in the history of the language. ‘Some of Shakespeare’s surcharged figures result in senses that never but for him would have been isolated for dictionary definition.’” (David Skinner)