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cacodemon

Printable Version Pronunciation: kæ-kê-dee-mên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. An evil spirit. 2. The Devil.

Notes: Some British speakers prefer to spell this word cacodaemon. It has one lexical relative, an adjective with two variants: cacodemonic and cacodemonical. If you need an adverb you must add the -ly to the longer form: cacodemonically. It is related to cacophony, often mispronounced [kaw--fê-ni]. The correct pronunciation is, of course, [kæ-kaw-fê-ni].

In Play: Cacodemons are the opposite of angels: "Other people have guardian angels looking over their lives; I must have a cacodemon looking over mine." However, today's Good Word is just as susceptible to figurativity: "I feel like cacodemons are fighting it out in my stomach over who is going to digest my dinner." (Resist the temptation to use this word in reference to the little brats who merely disturb you.)

Word History: Today's Good Word originated as Greek kakodaimon, a compound noun made up of kakos "bad, ugly" + daimon "spirit, deity, lesser god". Kakos comes from Proto-Indo-European kaka- "defecate". It survives to this day in English caca "poop". Poppycock has nothing to do with flowers or roosters, but is the leavings of a Dutch word poppekak "doll poop", again with a remnant of kaka.

Greek daimon is believed to go back to dai-mon "divider, distributor (of destinies)". If this is true, it also came down to Old English as tima "time, period", Modern English time, which is divided and proportioned regularly. (Let us all wish Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira no cacodemons, lest they interfere with his editing the Good Word series and recommending words like today's.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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