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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Aug 06, 2006 8:07 am

• ataraxia •

Pronunciation: æ-tê-ræk-see-yê • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: Peace of mind, the absence of any anxiety or stress, total relaxation, mental tranquility.

Notes: The adjective from today's Good Word is ataractic "relaxing, tranquilizing", from the stem of ataraxia, which is really atarac-sia, since X is, in fact, a letter representing two sounds, [k] + [s]. Since [k] was spelled C in Latin, removing the suffix -sia would leave a stem of atarac- for the suffix -tic to attach to. This adjective may also be used as a noun, meaning "a relaxant, tranquilizer".

In Play: A few years ago the sister of today's contributor, Maureen Koplow, saw a sign on a utility pole asking that we "advocate ataraxia". We hope ataraxia did not prevent her from suggesting it to us over the years. Ataraxia is a state most of us only dream of but, hopefully, some of us will make it: "Gladys Dunn felt herself moving closer and closer to absolute ataraxia as the day of her retirement approached."

Word History: This wonderful word is Greek ataraxia "indifference, calmness" without any English makeup. It comes from the negative prefix a(n)- + tarassein "to disturb". "Undisturbed" in the sense referring to people would therefore be another good interpretation of this word. It actually entered English before 1603 (the earliest published evidence) in its Anglicized garb, ataraxy, probably borrowed from the French version, ataraxie. The word never took, however, and in the late 19th century it was reintroduced in medical texts as today's Good Word.
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Postby Palewriter » Sun Aug 06, 2006 9:04 pm

What a great word. The balmy state described in this word seems, indeed, something worth striving for. I will immediately work it (the word, though probably not the state) into my daily routine.

-- PW
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow!!! What a ride!"

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Postby skinem » Sun Aug 06, 2006 9:14 pm

Wondferful word! Great goal.
Amazing the difference 2 little letters can make.

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Postby portokalos » Mon Aug 07, 2006 3:16 am

This word has good Karma. Its the greek word for the word Nirvana :)
It will be a danger word if it leads to αναισθησία.
"What is hell?" I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.
Fyodor Dostoevsky-The Brothers Karamazov

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