Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-bu-lyê Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: A mental disorder characterized by a loss of will or the ability to act decisively.

Notes: The adjective is abulic and the adverb, abulically. A person suffering from this dysfunction is an abulic. The British prefer spelling today's word aboulia, keeping the original Greek stem intact (see Word History).

In Play: Medical abulia usually results from physical brain damage; however, today's Good Word has applications far beyond the hospital parking lot. My own informal research shows that shopping triggers abulia in some women and chocolate often has the same effect on members of both sexes. Few of us have escaped the effect of this affliction: "Mick Stupp completely succumbs to abulia when it comes to buying sports cars."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Greek aboulia "indecision", made up of a- "no" + boule "will-power." Boule is is a noun from the Greek verbs ballein "to throw" and ballizein "to dance", the root of which also shows up in English ball (a dance that someone throws) and ballet. The original Proto-Indo-European word was gwel-, which came to English as quell via Old English cwellan "to kill, destroy" and German as quellen "to pour, gush". In fact, kill itself emerged from the same root. Devil is another word that made its way into English via this PIE word. In Old English it was deofol, an English revision of Latin diabolus, borrowed from Greek diabolos "slanderer", the personal noun from diaballein "to slander". This word comprises dia- "through" + ballein "to hurl", which is what Greek created from PIE gwel-. (Now, let's decisively thank Curtis Simple for suggesting today's Good Word and hope he will not lose the will to provide more like it.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!