Noun > Anthology

Noun – Anthology

The word “anthology” has Greek roots that literally mean “flower collection.”

Originally, going back to the year 1621, an anthology was a little booklet listing all the prayers and such to be read and sung in a church service.

Soon after that, we also used the word “anthology” to refer to a collection of poems, and then, to any collection of written pieces or musical pieces.

So in other words, today, an anthology is any collection of things (usually songs or pieces of writing) that are carefully chosen for their value and their variety, as if each were a special flower. Literal anthologies are physical things, like books or sets of CDs. And figurative anthologies (in general) aren’t: they’re sets of things that we’ve collected mentally, not physically.

Part of speech:

Usually a noun, the countable kind: “It’s an anthology of monster stories.”

Also sometimes an adjective: “It’s an anthology series.”

Other forms:

The plural is “anthologies.”

People who put anthologies together are “anthologists.”

You can describe things as “anthologic” (“AN thuh LODGE ick”), or “anthological.”

And you can “anthologize” things: add them to an anthology. The other verb forms are “anthologized” and “anthologizing.”

how to use it:
We often apply the word “anthology” in a straightforward way to any finely-crafted collection of poems, songs, stories, or musical pieces. And often we refer to certain television shows as anthology series, meaning each episode focuses on new characters and new storylines.

To use “anthology” more figuratively, refer to something as an anthology when it seems like a finely-crafted collection–even if it isn’t literally a book, a show, or any other kind of publication.

Here’s an example from Michael Field: “Her whole religion is an anthology of Olympic scandal.”

And here’s one from the New York Times: “The house… is an anthology of the signature features of the original Sea Ranch Condominium.”

“This new sci-fi series…[follows] the lives of the town’s residents, slowly uncovering how they’re interconnected with the Loop. The show is an anthology, but it’s best to watch in chronological order.”
— Sara Aridi, New York Times, 4 April 2020

“Playing World of Horror is like flipping through a comics anthology. After you pick one of several playable characters, it selects five stories from a larger pool of ‘investigations’: a popular ramen shop with a sinister secret, a best friend suddenly obsessed with eels, a ghost with scissors stalking the local school.”
— Adi Robertson, The Verge, 19 February 2020

“Here, Courtney, is your contribution to the anthology of my life.”
— Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why, 2011