• A literary or artistic assistant, in particular one who takes dictation or copies manuscripts.

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Example Sentences

“When I was promoted to professor, I received an amanuensis to help with my manuscripts and publications.”

“Many classical poets would dictate to an amanuensis, who would write down their words.” 

“If you need extra assistance, please ask the testing coordinator for an amanuensis.”

Word Origin

Latin, early 17th century

Why this word?

In the classical arts sense, an amanuensis was an assistant who took dictation from a writer or copied manuscripts. Julius Caesar is believed to have used three amanuenses in continuous cycles while working on his “Gallic Commentaries,” and the poet Milton employed his daughters in the position. More recently, however, the word has acquired a new usage in regards to disability accommodations. “Man” is the Proto-Indo-European root for the word “hand,” so an “amanuensis” could be a replacement for a hand. Some university disability offices offer students the option for an amanuensis who can help perform fine motor skills such as operating a microscope.

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