• addiction •
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A physical and psychological dependency on a drug, as an alcohol or cocaine addiction. 2. An obsession, a compulsive habit, as an addiction to shopping (shopaholism).
Notes: Today's Good Word has a large family of related words. Someone who is subject to an addiction is an addict, and a substance or activity that easily becomes an addiction is addictive. All these words arose from the verb to addict.
In Play: Addictions are usually bad: "Anita Job's addiction to alcohol has contributed to her spotty employment record." However, not all are: "Perry Yare's addiction to jazz has led him to travel the entire country." Indeed, people have been known to become Good Word addicts, not a bad addiction at all. Then there is my addiction: I am a recovering chocoholic. (Kicking the chocolate habit is a long, long, long drawn-out process.)
Word History: Today's Good Word is pretty much a carbon copy of Latin addictio(n-) "assignment (of disputed property)", the noun from addicere "to deliver in accordance with a court order, hand over, enslave". This verb is made out of ad "(up)to" + dicere "say, declare", which is found in many English borrowings from Latin: diction, edict, and dictionary. The shift in meaning results from a shortening of self-addiction, the forcible delivery of oneself to an obsession. The same root that became dicere in Latin became teach in English. The shift of [d] to [t] is perfectly usual in English, as is the shift of the [k] sound to [ch], which also explains how Scots English kirk became church in British English. (Today we must thank Helen Brits, no doubt a word addict, for suggesting today's Good Word in the Alpha Agora.)
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