• cupidity •
Pronunciation: kyu-pi-dê-tee, -ti • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)
Meaning: Excessive avarice or strong greed for something, especially for wealth.
Notes: How could there be a connection between unbridled greed and that sweet, chubby baby with angelic wings we associate with St. Valentine's Day and love? I guess you will have to wait for the history to find out, but it seems highly unlikely, doesn't it? You have your choice of adjectives, cupidous or cupidinous, though the former is also used with the slightly lusty sense of "amorous". Both are rare.
In Play: Here is an alternative to avarice and greed that loves to play: "The careless mixture of cupidity and stupidity has spelled disaster for many a visitor to Las Vegas and its maiden aunt, Wall Street." Don't miss the rhyming possibilities of the front ends of these words: "Men are brought to that oh-so wealthy Portia Radclyffe less often by Cupid than by cupidity."
Word History: Today's Good Word glided into our vocabulary through French from Latin cupidus "desirous, wishing for", an adjective from the verb cupere "to desire". It is easy to see how it could come to indicate the rather lustful desire epitomized by Cupid, the Latin god identified with Greek Eros. Indeed, the chubby little angel to the left misrepresents Cupid by quite a bit. The original Proto-Indo-European root was kuep- "boil, surge". In Sanskrit it emerged as kopayati "s/he gets angry" and in Lithuanian, kvepuoti "to breathe heavily". Latvian kupet "smoke" is a member of this family, as is Russian kipet' "to boil". The central meaning is boiling up and surging, actions which, when they occur in the human spirit, often result in passions and desires.