• blasé •
blah-zay • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Apathetic, detached because of luxury, surfeit, or excessive indulgence; sophisticatedly nonchalant, as to be blasé about gourmet food. 2. Lacking interest, apathetic, nonchalant, bored, as a blasé attitude toward housecleaning.
Notes: Today's Good Word is not to be pronounced as or confused with blaze. Blasé has not lost its feel of 'Frenchiness', as its pronunciation and the hat on the É tell us. So, we aren't allowed to make an adverb or a noun out of it. We will just have to develop a blazé attitude about their unavailability.
In Play: We can see blasé attitudes pretty much everywhere: "My grandchildren were born in the Internet age and are positively blasé about the Web." Even in the workplace: "The boss has become so blasé about laying people off that he does it by e-mail now."
Word History: Today's word is obviously French, the past participle of blaser "to cloy, to blunt (feelings)". It comes from a French dialect, where it meant "to be hung over". Blaser may well have come from Middle Dutch blasen "to blow up, swell". If so, it derives from the same Proto-Indo-European word that produced English blow, bladder, and blather, the latter probably from the sense of someone full of hot air. In Latin the initial B came to be F, so we know that all the Latin words that are derived from flare "to blow" are distant cousins. Borrowed English words based on this verb include flatulent, inflate, and soufflé, the noun of French souffler "to puff up", which comes from Latin sub "(from) under" + flare "to blow". (We cannot be blasé about thanking Tom Duffy for recommending today's lovely if adopted Good Word.)
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