multiversity (1926), pluriversity (1951)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Fri Dec 31 23:15:08 UTC 2004

* multiversity (OED3 1957)

1926 _(Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Daily Northwestern_ 3 Apr. 10/4 Some measures
must be taken against the obvious scrappiness of culture brought about by
specialization and to prevent the university from becoming a multiversity.

1955 _Syracuse (NY) Herald American_ 14 Aug. 52/4 A uni-versity is not
just a body of students gathered in one place; it is a unified body of
knowledge, a common pool of principles which all accept, know and taste. A
multi-versity is made up of disparate and unconnected fields of knowledge,
in which one branch of knowledge seems to have no relation with another
body of knowledge.

1955 _Syracuse (NY) Herald American_ 14 Aug. 52/5 The basic reason for our
multiversities is the loss of an ultimate and unified goal.

* pluriversity (not yet in OED)

1951 B. LOOMER in _Liberal Learning and Religion_. See below.

1953 _Journal of Negro Education_ 22 (Winter) 51/2 [Review of _Liberal
Learning and Religion_, ed. by Amos N. Wilder; New York: Harper, 1951]
Of especial interest is the essay on "Religion and the Mind of the
University" in which Dean Bernard Loomer of the University of Chicago ...
deplores the fact that the modern university has very often been not a
university but a "pluriversity" of specialists who do not know each other,
who do not want to know each other, and who, if they did know each other,
would be unable to communicate with each other.

1955 _Syracuse (NY) Herald American_ 14 Aug. 52/5 When men believe in one
God, education produces a university; when men believe in many gods, such
as each individual sets up for himself, from pleasure to wealth, there are

1975 _Journal of Communication_ 25 (Spring) 18 Television may put churches
out of business, and huge state pluriversities may put small colleges on
the brink.

--Ben Zimmer

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