Some twenty years ago the late Professor Alistair Campbell observed that there were two broad stylistic traditions of Anglo-Latinity: the one, which he called the classical, was seen to have its principal proponent in Bede; the other, which he called the hermeneutic, was said to have its principal proponent in Aldhelm. The following discussion is an attempt to clarify Campbell's broad distinction by reference to a variety of tenth-century Anglo-Latin texts which may be described as ‘hermeneutic’. By ‘hermeneutic’ I understand a style whose most striking feature is the ostentatious parade of unusual, often very arcane and apparently learned vocabulary. In Latin literature of the medieval period, this vocabulary is of three general sorts: (1) archaisms, words which were not in use in classical Latin but were exhumed by medieval authors from the grammarians or from Terence and Plautus; (2) neologisms or coinages; and (3) loan-words. In the early medieval period (before, say, 1100) the most common source of loan-words was Greek. This was a result of the universal prestige which Greek enjoyed, particularly after the Carolingian period, when a very few exceptional men seemed to have a fundamental knowledge of the language. But sound knowledge of Greek was always restricted to a privileged minority (principally because of the lack of an adequate and widely circulated introductory primer); for the majority of medieval authors, acquaintance with continuous Greek came only through reciting the Creed, the Lord's Prayer or occasionally the psalter in Greek, and acquaintance with Greek vocabulary came through Greek–Latin glossaries. The most popular of the Greek–Latin glossaries – those based ultimately on the grammar of Dositheus – had originated as bilingual phrase-books in the bilingual world of Late Antiquity. But as first-hand knowledge of Greek disappeared, these glossaries were inevitably carelessly copied, with the result that Greek words derived from glossaries often bear little resemblance to their originals (ιχθυs. becomes iactis in several glossaries, to choose a random example). Accordingly, Greek vocabulary derived from glossaries has a distinctive flavour, either in its bizarre orthography or its unpredictable denotation, and is usually readily identifiable. In the following pages I shall attempt to show how Anglo-Latin authors of the tenth century ornamented their style by the use of archaisms, neologisms and grecisms, derived for the most part from glossaries. One point should be mentioned, however: it is customary among certain scholars of insular Latin to describe a style in which unusual words are found as ‘Hisperic’. But this term is often carelessly employed. It ought to refer strictly to the exceedingly obscure and almost secretive language of the Hisperica Famina themselves, compositions which abound in grecisms and are characterized by a predictable kind of neologism – nouns terminating in -men, -fer, -ger; verbs in -itare or -icare; adjectives in -osus. Unfortunately, however, the term ‘Hisperic’ carries with it some connotation of Ireland. The Hisperica Famina themselves were almost certainly composed in Ireland; but all medieval Latin literature which displays neologisms and grecisms was not. Such literature usually has nothing in common with the Hisperica Famina save that it sends a modern reader to his dictionary. I would therefore urge the use of the more neutral term ‘hermeneutic’ and hope to show that the excessively mannered style of many tenth-century Anglo-Latin compositions has nothing to do with Ireland or the Hisperica Famina, but is in the main an indigenous development.