• anhedonia •
æn-hee-do-nee-yê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)
Meaning: 1. The absence of pleasure. 2. The inability to enjoy pleasure. (In medicine this is a core symptom of depression.)
Notes: Today's Good Word is the antonym of hedonism, overindulgence in pleasure. The adjective is anhedonic. No dictionary offers a word for the person suffering from this sad malady but anhedonist is already out there, lurking on the Web.
In Play: If your city fathers have trouble with jokes, you might want to suggest the city change its name to Anhedonia. (I seem to vaguely remember a city by that name somewhere.) You might hear high school students asking (unfairly) up and down the hall, "Is anhedonia a requirement for school principals?" Getting the pleasure principle in balance requires give and take.
Word History: This word comes to us from Greek an- "without" + hedon "pleasure" + -ia, a noun suffix. Hedon made it to Greek from the PIE root, *swad- "sweet, pleasant", that came to English as sweet. In Latin it shows up as suadere "to advise, urge", whose root also finds itself in English persuade, an activity more effective with sugar than vinegar. Latin suavis "delightful" is a cousin. It came through French to us as suave. (Many thanks for this Good Word are due the Alpha Agora's stargazer, Larry Brady, who takes great pleasure in words.)
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