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 related to the Greek verbs ballein "to throw" and ballizein "to dance", the root of which also shows up in English ball (the dance someone throws) and ballet. The original Proto-Indo-European root was *gwel-, which came to English as quell via Old English cwellan "to kill, destroy". In fact, kill itself emerged from the same root. (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,

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