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

Networking
  • SD-WAN security

    SD-WAN security refers to the practices, protocols and technologies protecting data and resources transmitted across ...

  • net neutrality

    Net neutrality is the concept of an open, equal internet for everyone, regardless of content consumed or the device, application ...

  • network scanning

    Network scanning is a procedure for identifying active devices on a network by employing a feature or features in the network ...

Security
  • cloud penetration testing

    Cloud penetration testing is a tactic an organization uses to assess its cloud security effectiveness by attempting to evade its ...

  • cloud workload protection platform (CWPP)

    A cloud workload protection platform (CWPP) is a security tool designed to protect workloads that run on premises, in the cloud ...

  • out-of-band authentication

    Out-of-band authentication is a type of two-factor authentication (2FA) that requires a secondary verification method through a ...

CIO
  • strategic management

    Strategic management is the ongoing planning, monitoring, analysis and assessment of all necessities an organization needs to ...

  • IT budget

    IT budget is the amount of money spent on an organization's information technology systems and services. It includes compensation...

  • project scope

    Project scope is the part of project planning that involves determining and documenting a list of specific project goals, ...

HRSoftware
  • director of employee engagement

    Director of employee engagement is one of the job titles for a human resources (HR) manager who is responsible for an ...

  • digital HR

    Digital HR is the digital transformation of HR services and processes through the use of social, mobile, analytics and cloud (...

  • employee onboarding and offboarding

    Employee onboarding involves all the steps needed to get a new employee successfully deployed and productive, while offboarding ...

Customer Experience
  • chatbot

    A chatbot is a software or computer program that simulates human conversation or "chatter" through text or voice interactions.

  • martech (marketing technology)

    Martech (marketing technology) refers to the integration of software tools, platforms, and applications designed to streamline ...

  • transactional marketing

    Transactional marketing is a business strategy that focuses on single, point-of-sale transactions.

Close