• equanimity •
Pronunciation: ek-wê-nim-ê-tee or ee-kwê- . . . • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (No plural)
Meaning: Steadiness and composure under pressure; unruffledness in a stressful situation.
Notes: The adjective that accompanies today's Good Word is the rather odd-sounding equanimous [ee-kwæ-nê-mês] "even-tempered, balanced, composed", as an equanimous response to a provocative insult.
In Play: Stressful or embarrassing situations call for equanimity: "Joe Fell rose from his pratfall with uncommon equanimity and continued down the hall as though nothing had happened." Whatever raises stress levels, equanimity lowers them: "Duane Pipes received the news of his wife's leaving him with an equanimity that might have saved the marriage had he applied it more while they were together."
Word History: English borrowed this word from French in the 17th century. French inherited it from Latin æquanimitas "calmness, patience, equanimity", a noun based on æquus "even, equal" + animus "mind, spirit" or anima "soul". Æquus is apparently related to Sanskrit eka "one". Animus underlies animal, a thing of spirit; it comes from the same source as Greek anemos "wind", often thought of as a spirit in bye-gone years. The Greek word is the root of anemone "daughter of the wind", which is now the English word for the wind-flower (Anemone nemorosa). (Today we thank Rob N. Hood for having the spirit to suggest today's Good Word.)