Printable Version
Pronunciation: æ-pê-plek-see Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. A stroke, a sudden loss of sense and movement as a result of a neural event. 2. A hemorrhage or sudden escape of blood in an organ or tissue, as a retinal apoplexy in the eye. 3. Furious rage that seems to be leading to a stroke.

Notes: It is useful to remember that, in English, X is the only letter representing two sounds: [k] (often spelled C) + [s]. That explains why the adjective for this word is apoplectic when the suffix -tic is added to it. If you want to tack on another suffix, -al, you may but if you want the adverb, you must add this suffix even if you don't pronounce it: apoplectically.

In Play: The original meaning of today's word, "a stroke", is a bit dated even in the medical profession, but is still usable: "When Horace was told he had to pay luxury tax on his fishing boat, his face turn so red Mabel thought it was a fit of apoplexy." We are certainly free to use it in the sense of an explosion of rage, though: "When Coach Airman saw the referee call the fifth foul in a row against one of his players, he flew into a fit of apoplexy that drew a technical foul."

Word History: Today's Good Word participated in a lively trade over the years. It began with Greek apoplexia, from there went to Latin where it developed into French apoplexie, a word English could not resist. Greek apoplexia is the noun of apoplessein "cripple by a stroke", a verb made up of: apo- "from" + plessein "to hit, strike". Plessein comes from an older PIE root with a Fickle N (sometimes there, sometimes not). It is absent in Latin plaga "a blow, stroke", which we borrowed from French as plague. However, it is present in the English cognate, fling, which came to us via the regular Germanic route. (Katy Brezger always strikes a chord with us when she suggests a word as good as today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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