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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Dec 18, 2016 10:10 pm

• ecstasy •

Pronunciation: ek-stê-see • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. The state of being carried away beyond self-control by high emotion; a state of unmanageable bliss or euphoria. 2. A trance-like state or frenzy of religious passion. 3. [Slang] An illegal amphetamine.

Notes: Today's word is one of those Greek borrowings ending on an S or soft C that becomes a T in words derived from it: the adjective for ectasy is ecstatic [ek-stæ-dik], just as the adjective for stasis is static and that for democracy is democratic. The adverb, therefore, is ecstatically. If you must 'verb' this word, ecstacize is the way to do it: "Gilda Lilly simply ecstacized over her new Armani evening dress."

In Play: Ecstasy is usually associated with the heights of euphoria: "The very thought of chocolate truffles transports Kaye Largo to a state of ecstasy." Today's Good Word can also refer to a religious or almost religious trance: "The sight of Barbie Dahl raised Jason Rainboes to such a height of ecstasy that his eyes lost focus and slightly crossed themselves."

Word History: Middle English borrowed this word from Old French extasie (Modern French extase). French inherited this word from Late Latin extasis "terror", which had been borrowed earlier from Greek ekstasis "astonishment". Ekstasis was derived from the verb existanai "to displace, put outside of", made up of ek- "out of" + histanai "to put, place" (stanai "placed"). Greek histanai is a prefixed form based on the older root sta- "stand" which also produced English stand, stage, and stay. In Greek it produced stasis "motionlessness", whose adjective was borrowed as English static. The verb meaning "stand" in Latin was stare, which went into the making of the Good Word stamen, stamina. (Let's not become so ecstatic over today's Good Word as to forget to thank Marilyn Zrkos for suggesting it.)
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George Kovac
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Re: Ecstasy

Postby George Kovac » Mon Dec 19, 2016 2:00 pm

"Ecstasy" is a word that is all over the place contextually, and most of those places are controversial or fraught: Tantric sex, religious trance or dangerous recreational drug. That is a weird collection, all at the extremes.

The only benign use of the word I can think of is the attenuated adjectival form "ecstatic." One can be "ecstatic" about a new job, a nice restaurant meal or an invitation to a coveted party. In other words, "ecstatic" has become a low voltage adjective merely connoting a positive reception of relatively ordinary stuff. Kind of like the fate of the word "awesome." That word used to refer to admiration for a frighteningly powerful yet compelling force, especially the Judeo-Christian deity, but today "awesome" is more often used to describe the latest upgrade of a video game.

But ecstasy itself still sizzles. Browse Amazon books under the keyword "ecstasy" and you will get handfuls of racy titles about sex, lots of specialized devotional religious books, and a few exuberant offerings about music, mostly jazz related. While "ecstatic" has become a pretty tame adjective, its noun form remains awesome.
Last edited by George Kovac on Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Every battle of ideas is fought on the terrain of language." Zia Haider Rahman, New York Times 4/8/2016

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Re: Ecstasy

Postby call_copse » Tue Dec 20, 2016 7:45 am

I remember quite enjoying Irvine Welsh's (he wrote Trainspotting) work Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance. Perhaps not for the faint of heart but I recall a decent, realistic portrait of the liberation and dangers of the Scottish rave scene. Worth a read if you are interested in the darker side.

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