Browse Definitions :

Font of wisdom or fount of wisdom?

Writing for Business

Which is correct?
Once upon a time, the CIO was considered the ____ of all wisdom, at least in terms of technology.
a. fount
b. font

Answer: Either.

Explanation:
Fount is short for fountain as a spring flows from the earth; metaphorically, it refers to a continuous source of something or other. A font, in this context, is more of a reservoir, like the baptismal font. So, although the original expression was “fount of all wisdom,” either works, depending on whether you consider someone to be an eternal source of wisdom or just a sort of holding tank for it. In either case, we often use “fount of all wisdom” sarcastically, implying that they may not be quite as wise as they are deemed to be.

I thought of writing this post because I referred to George Bush as a fount of malapropisms and other errors yesterday in a conversation on Twitter and then wondered about the relationship between the words fount and font.

They both derive from the Latin fons for fountain but came different routes:

From Merriam-Webster:
Fount: Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin font-, fons, from Latin, fountain
Font: Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin font-, fons, from Latin, fountain

I’m inclined toward fount, myself, but as Maeve Maddox wrote in her post Fount of Wisdom, “Do you see the figurative source of wisdom or information as a welling spring of water, or as a filled basin? I’ll stick with fount, but I’d hesitate to fault the speaker/writer who goes with font.”

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

Dig Deeper on Writing for Business

SearchCompliance
  • smart contract

    A smart contract is a decentralized application that executes business logic in response to events.

  • compliance risk

    Compliance risk is an organization's potential exposure to legal penalties, financial forfeiture and material loss, resulting ...

  • information governance

    Information governance is a holistic approach to managing corporate information by implementing processes, roles, controls and ...

SearchSecurity
  • threat modeling

    Threat modeling is a procedure for optimizing application, system or business process security by identifying objectives and ...

  • social engineering

    Social engineering is an attack vector that relies heavily on human interaction and often involves manipulating people into ...

  • distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack

    A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is one in which multiple compromised computer systems attack a target, such as a ...

SearchHealthIT
SearchDisasterRecovery
  • change control

    Change control is a systematic approach to managing all changes made to a product or system.

  • disaster recovery (DR)

    Disaster recovery (DR) is an organization's ability to respond to and recover from an event that affects business operations.

  • risk mitigation

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

SearchStorage
  • race condition

    A race condition is an undesirable situation that occurs when a device or system attempts to perform two or more operations at ...

  • storage security

    Storage security is the group of parameters and settings that make storage resources available to authorized users and trusted ...

  • cloud storage

    Cloud storage is a service model in which data is transmitted and stored on remote storage systems, where it is maintained, ...

Close