• insouciant •
Pronunciation: in-su-see-ênt • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Nonchalant, breezy and shallow, carefree, blithe.
Notes: Insouciant folks are not necessarily apathetic. Apathetic implies a deeper, more profound indifference, a lack of emotional response or connectivity. Insouciance (the noun) is a carefree breeziness that does not preclude some interest in political or social issues. We may, of course, approach these issues insouciantly (the adverb).
In Play: Today's Good Word indicates a serious lack of seriousness: "Her coworkers think that Ida Claire is a bit insouciant to work in a nuclear reactor." Remember, the line between carefree and careless is a very soft one, indeed: "The last we saw of Hermione Prize she was insouciantly lighting a cigarette as she filled her tank at the gas station."
Word History: Today's word is the Old French prefix in- "not" + souciant " present participle of soucier "to trouble". This French verb came all the way from Latin sollicitare "to disturb, agitate, vex". This verb comes from sollicitus "agitated, upset", an adjective that once was a compound made up of solus "entire" + citus "stirred up", the past participle of ciere "to agitate, stir". We see the root of solus in many words borrowed from Latin, such as solid, solder, and solitary. The root of ciere turned up in Greek kinein "to move" and kinesis "movement", as in telekinesis "moving objects by mental power". (We are happy to announce that insouciance did not prevent Susan Kappel from suggesting today's Good Word.)