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palimpsest [pal-imp-sest]

noun

a manuscript on which two or more successive texts have been written, each one being erased to make room for the next

Etymology

1661, from L. palimpsestus = parchment cleaned for re-use; from Gk. palimpsestos = scraped again' from palin= again (see palindrome) + verbal adj. of psen "to rub smooth" (of unknown origin).

Usage:

"Language is an archeological vehicle ... the language we speak is a whole palimpsest of human effort and history."

-Russell Hoban
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