New Thing #213: Peripatetic

PeripateticI came across one of those words last week that I see a lot but of which I never stop to get a full understanding. But this time I did.

It's 'peripatetic' - and as you can see at left, courtesy of's iPhone app, it means "walking or traveling about; itinerant."

Perhaps you knew that.

Perhaps I should have figured that out from the many contexts in which I've read it.

Maybe I have before...but it's never stuck.

I hope it will now.

Mag_ShotI can't remember all of the instances where I've come across 'peripatetic' recently, but I know I've seen it a number of times.

This time it was in last week's Sports Illustrated, in the 'Scorecard' column - an article about Keith Olbermann coming back to ESPN.

It's a good example of how I've seen the word used - it always seems to be used in the sense of a "peripatetic journey". But - and I may be wrong here - I think I am going to take issue with its use.

It seems like a really unnecessary word.

Peripatetic: "Walking or traveling about; itinerant."

Itinerant: "traveling from place to place" or, especially in this case, "working in one place for a comparatively short time and then moving on to work in another place, usually as a physical or outdoor laborer."

So basically, to me, if you're describing Olbermann's work career, it's an "itinerant journey"...I don't know that you have to use "peripatetic."

Further, it's a journey - I don't know that you need an adjective that describes the journey - if you're listing the places he's worked afterwards anyway, we get the idea he has bounced from place to need for an obscure word like 'peripatetic' there.

Seems unnecessary. Or redundant. Just my opinion.

But if I happen to come across it in my reading - or in a crossword puzzle in my (regular, non-peripatetic) journeys....I'll be ready.