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HEBETUDE

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HEBETUDE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:19 pm

• hebetude •

Pronunciation: he-bê-tyud • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: Mental dullness, lethargy of thought.

Notes: Hebetude is the noun for the rather archaic adjective hebete "dull, mentally slow", not often used any more—but it is still out there in really, really comprehensive dictionaries. If this word is too short for you, please feel free to substitute hebetudinous, which has the same meaning.

In Play: Hebetude is not quite stupidity; it is simply a mental slowness or dullness: "The mortician had captured on the face of M. T. Head that same expression of hebetude that characterized it in life." The real advantage of this word, however, is that its infrequency allows you to use it even in the presence of hebetudinous people, as in: "It is less your attitude that worries me, Dwight, than your hebetude." If Dwight is not hebetudinous, he will run to the dictionary and make sure to avoid making such an impression in the future.

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin hebetudo "dullness, bluntness", the noun from hebe(t)s "dull (physically or mentally)". How Latin came upon this stem is a mystery since we do not find any related words in other Indo-European languages. Even English only borrowed it once, leaving us with nothing more to say about it. If you are still hungry for etymology, you might like the newly discovered etymology of the name of the US state of Idaho. (Today we thank a man totally lacking in what the word he suggested signifies, Will Strockbine, recently retired from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.)
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Another Use of the Root Word Hebe in English

Postby MartinG » Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:05 pm

In the "Good Word" explanation it states that the root is used only once. I trained as a psychiatric nurse at The Bethlem Royal & The Maudsley Hospital in London - you know it as Bedlam - and we saw at least one patient with a diagnosis of hebephrenic schizophrenia. As I recall she was not particularly slow but did display "word salad" and neologistic [new, meaningless words] speech. Here's a link:

http://www.schizophrenic.com/content/sc ... izophrenia

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Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:18 pm

Good reference Martin. I spent two years in Louisville as a psychiatric aide. The chief distinguishing marks of hebephrenic schitzes they told us were silliness and giggling. This makes more sense and is more thorough. The favorite diagnosis then was paranoid schitz, apart from a manic or two. The excellent link shows how today's good word applies to that form of mental illness. Looking forward to more posts from you, Martin
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Postby call_copse » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:41 am

I am definitely going to try and find an excuse to use hebetude - I did know it but it had slipped out of my 'active' vocabulary.

The claim that the root hebe- was borrowed only once did set me thinking as to whether the only hebe word I could think of is related. It's a dry medical definition if somewhat unsavoury - hebephile. This is presumably from the Greek godess of youth Hebe though (Juventas in Roman, like the famous football team).

Anyone got a theory about a relationship between hebetude and Hebe maybe?
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Postby Audiendus » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:21 am

call_copse wrote:Anyone got a theory about a relationship between hebetude and Hebe maybe?

I was wondering about that too. It is interesting that hebe- in the sense of "dull" or "blunt" has been combined with the Greek suffix -phrenic, but I can find no evidence of any Greek origin of hebe- in the "dull/blunt" sense.

I found this in the Online Etymology Dictionary:

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=heavy

Note that one of the origins of "heavy" (whose meanings include "slow/dull") is the Old Saxon and Old High German word hebig. Old Saxon (Old Low German) dates from the 8th century, and Old High German from the 6th century (i.e. after the Roman period), but it appears that hebig developed from the words hafiga and khabigas in Proto-Germanic, which was contemporary with the Roman era. Could the Latin hebes have come from an ancient Germanic language? (A few Latin words, like sapo (soap), have a Germanic root.)
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Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:32 pm

I am not a medical doctor. One of my sons and one of my sons-in-law are MDs, specialty surgeons. I have known some psychiatrists well as a patient. When I had a stroke they thought I needed that kind of help. Maybe I did, but I didn't get much. I have known, and given considerable help to two paranoid schizophrenics. One worked for me as a laborer for several months. One is a survivor of the worst that Chairman Mao could do to him in the Cultural Revolution. Both of these men improved greatly without the aid of psychiatrists. What they got and get is respect and friendship. Both of these men are truly schizophrenic. Both of them have major high IQs. So they are not hebetudes. I have known many people who are hebetudes. Some of these people have been and are my best friends. It is great to have an one hundred and seventy IQ, but compassion and friendship are better.
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Postby wurdpurrson » Sat Mar 17, 2012 4:56 am

I once privately thought of a particular supervisor as a cretin, but now realize that he was hebetudinous. Wish I could tell him about my change in perception - but he wouldn't get it.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:21 pm

Can't add much, but most interesting discussion.
More on Hebephile??
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Mar 17, 2012 1:35 pm

I vote for hebephile to mean silly friendships.
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Postby wurdpurrson » Sat Mar 17, 2012 3:45 pm

Or hopeless/hapless love?
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Postby call_copse » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:03 am

A hebephile has a sexual preference for pubescent partners - sorry, perhaps I should have pointed that out.

Pedophile - pre-pubescent
Hebephile - pubescent (11-14 yrs)
Ephebophiles - adolescent (15-16 yrs)
Teleiophiles - fully grown
Gerontophile - the elderly

I assume this is from the Goddess of Youth though I have no formal derivation.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:21 pm

Never made the connections. thanks.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:44 pm

I wonder where "-phile" picked up the sexual connotation. It's certainly not there in bibliophile or anglophile.
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Postby call_copse » Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:33 am

It is not exclusively sexual by any stretch. From:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philias

"There are five major areas of usage of this suffix: biology, sexology, chemistry/physics, hobbies, and attitude to specific nations, with occasional coinage in other areas."
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Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:11 pm

Since Phil is a part of my name, I hope everyone recognizes the various meanings of the Greek word. Philadelphia is a word everyone knows that does a good job displaying the original Greek meaning. Philip means horse lover. I am not a horseman but, while I carefully avoid touching almost every domestic animal, I do like horses and have been known to ride in my youth. My mother was a horsewoman from childhood, almost always riding her horse. However, she never rode a high horse.

Scholars will tell you there are at least four Greek words for love: eros, storge, philia, and agape. In New Testament 101, we learned that agape, perhaps the most obscure Greek word for love at that time, was chosen by the Church to represent the giving kind of love that is from God and should be among people. So agape to you, amigos (to mix in a little Latin based love) of Alpha Agora.
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