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Printable Version
Pronunciation: pi-gæl-jee-yê Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A pain in the behind.

Notes: Today's Good Word is another that needs to be rescued from the exclusive domain of the medical profession. At least as many pains in the butt are found outside the health care system as inside it, so why confine this word in the world of 'doctorese'? The adjective is pygalgic and the adverb, of course, pygalgically.

In Play: Here is a word that only doctors and Good Word readers will know, so you only need to be careful using it around these two elite groups: "Owen Cash is such a pygalgia, trying to borrow money all the time!" Today's word is one more piece of artillery in alphaDictionary's constant struggle against profanity: "What a pygalgia that Jess Beaman is, smiling and cracking jokes at his brother's funeral."

Word History: Today's word was invented by the ancient Greeks by putting together pyge "buttocks" + algia "pain". Pyge apparently came from an earlier verb that meant "blow out", for it shows up in words in several languages meaning "wind" and "storm". We won't pursue that stinky route. Algia shows up in many English words, such as analgesic "pain-killer" from a(n) "no, not, un-" + algia "pain" + -ic, an adjective-noun suffix. There is an algia for almost every anatomical region, such as odontalgia "toothache", gastralgia "stomach-ache", and cephalalgia "headache". Nostalgia comes from Greek nostos "return home" + algia.

Dr. Goodword,

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