What do “parergonal” and "parergon" mean in the following sentence? Can anybody suggest some synonym?

Thus, the figurative signification of structure does not escape but instead confirms the parergonal and supplemental status of ornament. If structure in its metaphorical sense is the fully conceived structured idea of the building, then ornament becomes the parergon that reifies the underlying essential idea, the recessive unseen structure. (Source: "Structure/ornament and the Modern Figuration of Architecture" by Anne-Marie Sankovitch)

I checked them out in American Heritage Online English dictionary and Wikipedia, but I wasn't able to figure it out, and I'm struggling because I'm actually not able to understand what Anne-Marie Sankovitch said.

closed as general reference by Marthaª, MetaEd, TimLymington, tchrist, user11550 Aug 27 '12 at 17:18

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    Did you try "define: parergon" using Google, a method that was suggested to you in the answer to a different question of yours? Also, Wikipedia is not a dictionary, so if you are looking for definitions, it is not a good source. You might try Wiktionary instead. Also, since you are reading academic articles, you should probably consult a more sophisticated dictionary. – Kit Z. Fox Aug 27 '12 at 17:02
  • 1
    Also, "parergon" is defined earlier in that very article. – Kit Z. Fox Aug 27 '12 at 17:06

From the OED's entry for parergon:

parergon /pəˈrɝːgɒn/.

Pl. parerga (in 7 erron. parergas).

Etymology: L. parergon an extra ornament in art, a. Gr. πάρεργον by-work, subordinate or secondary business, etc., sb. use of neuter of πάρεργος beside or in addition to the main work, f. παρά beside + ἕργον work.

  1. In Painting: Something subordinate or accessory to the main subject; hence, generally and fig., ornamental accessory or addition, grace, embellishment. ? Obs.
  2. By-work, subordinate or secondary work or business; work apart from one’s main business or ordinary employment. Also a work, composition, etc., that is secondary to or a derivative of a larger or greater work; an opusculum.
  3. † A supplemental work. (As title of a book.)

Note that senses 1 and 3 are both considered obsolete.

I suggest you gain access to an unabridged dictionary. You aren't going to be happy with all the words that these so-called "learners" dictionaries leave out, like oh maybe . . . opusculum.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.