Kalipedia, he prophesied, would soon be generally adopted..
- James Joyce, Ulysses

I cannot find any information about this word! It doesn't help that there appears to be a Spanish online encyclopedia of the same name. What does Kalipedia mean in this context? It sounds as if it's an ideology or way of doing things perhaps?


3 Answers 3


Joyce is famous for his neologisms and Kalipedia is one such. The entire sentence reads:

Kalipedia, he prophesied, would soon be generally adopted and all the graces of life, genuinely good music, agreeable literature, light philosophy, instructive pictures, plastercast reproductions of the classical statues such as Venus and Apollo, artistic coloured photographs of prize babies, all these little attentions would enable ladies who were in a particular condition to pass the intervening months in a most enjoyable manner.

The word is constructed from the Greek kali (meaning beauty, as in calligraphy) and paedia (meaning education) and could be construed to mean education through beauty or perhaps enrichment through beauty. Joyce (or his character, Mr. Mulligan) very likely derived the word from the Greek phrase, Kalos kagathos:

Kalos kagathos (Ancient Greek καλὸς κἀγαθός [kalos kaːɡatʰǒs]), of which kalokagathia (καλοκαγαθία) is the derived noun, is a phrase used by classical Greek writers to describe an ideal of personal conduct, especially in a military context. Its use is attested since Herodotus and the classical period. The phrase is adjectival, composed of two adjectives, καλός ("beautiful") and ἀγαθός ("good" or "virtuous"), the second of which is combined by crasis with καί "and" to form κἀγαθός. Werner Jaeger summarizes it as ”the chivalrous ideal of the complete human personality, harmonious in mind and body, foursquare in battle and speech, song and action”.

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    Completely satisfied by your answer and thrilled that others can now find it. Thanks!
    – fauxCoder
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 9:03
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    Kalos kagathos is the key to unlock the secret behind Kalipedia! +1 Great analysis! Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 9:05
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    Very good answer indeed, but I feel I must add another "kali-"derived word, "callipygous" (or "callipygian"). The second element is from "puge," or "buttocks." It's a great way to make a direct compliment to a woman which would otherwise earn a slap. Commented Mar 19, 2013 at 22:37

I offer another possible meaning. The Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Acamedy defines "calipedia" as such:

calipedia. (Del gr. καλλιπαιδία). 1. f. Arte quimérica de procrear hijos hermosos.

Rough/literal translation: (From the Greek καλλιπαιδία) 1. Chimeric art of procreating beautiful children.

In this sense the suffix -pedia refers not to education, but to children, as in "pediatrics".

Whether Joyce intended this meaning, I cannot know, but perhaps one of you can attest as to which one would be more likely, if not plausible.

  • An interesting discovery. Perhaps Joyce intended his neologism to be a pun?
    – fauxCoder
    Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 4:22
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    That does make more sense, given that the context (as quoted by coleopterist) is about pregnant women. Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 4:56

Joyce (and the Spanish academy) spell it with one 'l' and not two - indicating that the word derives not from Greek κάλλος (beauty) but from καλός (good). And the rest of Joyce's paragraph is about "good" things not "beautiful".

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    Commented Oct 2, 2022 at 9:21
  • This appears to be a comment on the accepted answer. Because you don't have 50 rep points yet, you can't comment: please flesh this out into a full answer!
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    Commented Oct 2, 2022 at 10:31

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