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Compunction

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Compunction

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Dec 13, 2013 11:47 pm

• compunction •


Pronunciation: kêm-pêngk-shên • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: Guilt, reservation, the sting of conscience, the source of our qualms.

Notes: The need for today's Good Word seems to be diminishing: rappers advocate immorality, radio and TV thrive on it, while most business and political leaders seem to have lost their bearings. 'Tis a shame, too, for this word has a happy family of relatives: compunctious is the positive adjective and compunctionless, the negative. Both may be used adverbially by simply daubing on the suffix -ly.

In Play: It is respect for compunction that prevents us from behavior that makes us uncomfortable: "Aly Monie must have gotten a great settlement in her divorce: she now spends $400 a week on hairdos without any compunction at all." Compunction borders either side of the straight-and-narrow path that we all try hard to follow: "Sturbridge felt no compunction including the gifts to his girlfriends in his travel expenses."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Old French componction, the legal heir of Latin compunctio(n) "puncture, prick of conscience". This noun came from the verb compungere "to prick, sting", made up of the prefix com-, used here as an intensive prefix, plus pungere "to prick, stick". The root of this word goes back to Proto-Indo-European peuk- or peug- with a Fickle N, that comes and goes mysteriously, such as the one we saw recently in the ancestor of languor. Without the Fickle N we see in pungere, this root appears in Latin pugil "boxer", origin of English pugilist. (Without the least bit of compunction, indeed, without so much as a qualm, we generously thank Lee Blue for suggesting today's Good Word.)
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Re: Compunction

Postby MTC » Sat Dec 14, 2013 9:10 pm

Compunction is sometimes known as "coward's conscience."

From Richard II:

"the worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul!"
Act I, Scene 3

"i did but dream.o coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!"
Act V, Scene 3

"Conscience is but a word that cowards use / Devised at first to keep the strong in awe / Our strong arms be our conscience; swords, our law"
Act V, Scene 3

Shakespeare, however, puts these words into the mouth of
a villain, Richard II. Could the Bard have been somewhat ambivalent about conscience, himself?
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Re: Compunction

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Dec 15, 2013 12:47 pm

I wonder if an over-extension of compunction can be
linked to OCD.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: Compunction

Postby gailr » Sun Dec 15, 2013 1:01 pm

Luke types faster than me! I'm following from MTC's musing on compunction and conscience...

Hamlet wrote:Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.
Hamlet, Act III scene i

Duke Vincentio wrote:I'll teach you how you shall arraign your conscience,
And try your penitence, if it be sound,
Or hollowly put on.
Measure for Measure, Act II Scene iii

It's a theme he visited several times although his intent is ambiguous to modern ears (e.g. Sonnet 151!).
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Re: Compunction

Postby MTC » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:31 pm

gailr

Shakespeare's a trove
We need not prove
For every line
Bejeweled fine
Is proof enough
Fair lady.

Apocrypha of MTC

Thanks for the sonnet and the inspiration, gailr. I hadn't read
this one before. It's a beauty, worth quoting in full:

SONNET 151

Love is too young to know what conscience is;
Yet who knows not conscience is born of love?
Then, gentle cheater, urge not my amiss,
Lest guilty of my faults thy sweet self prove:
For, thou betraying me, I do betray
My nobler part to my gross body's treason;
My soul doth tell my body that he may
Triumph in love; flesh stays no father reason;
But, rising at thy name, doth point out thee
As his triumphant prize. Proud of this pride,
He is contented thy poor drudge to be,
To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side.
No want of conscience hold it that I call
Her 'love' for whose dear love I rise and fall.
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Re: Compunction

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Dec 15, 2013 11:27 pm

Yes, nice, indeed.
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Re: Compunction

Postby gailr » Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:09 pm

MTC wrote:Thanks for the sonnet and the inspiration, gailr. I hadn't read
this one before. It's a beauty, worth quoting in full:
You're welcome, MTC.

You do realize that's a poem about concupiscence...
Why do you think he's stayed so popular for so long?
:wink:
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