Printable Version
Pronunciation: kah(r)-mê Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. [Hinduism & Buddhism] The effects of our actions that determine our destiny in our next incarnation. 2. Vibes, aura, a distinct sense of or feeling for a place, person, or object. 3. Fate, destiny.

Notes: You might try the adjective, karmic, though the mixing of a Sanskrit root with a Latin suffix is a little strange. Karma, of course, is not directly related to 'carma', our reward in this life for polite driving. Good 'carma' is built up by allowing other drivers into long traffic lines, giving up contested parking spaces, and the like. It results in finding more and better parking places, dodging road rage, and finding stations with lower gasoline prices.

In Play: Remember, your karma does not speak to your success in this life, but to your reincarnated form: "If I'm any judge of karma, Willy can look forward to a second life as a real leech." In the English-speaking world, however, the word indicates the feel and invisible aura of something: "The karma in their house always sours when they bring out the slide shows."

Word History: Today's Good Word is the Sanskrit word for "deed" from the verb karoti "performs, does, acts", that is to say, an action that has consequences. Sanskrit is an Indo-European language related to English and most of the languages of Europe. So, it shouldn't be surprising to discover that this word is related to Latin creare "to create". In Russian we find chary "magic" and charovat' "to charm, enchant" (Carma was suggested by Collette St. Clair, Denver's premier piano instructor, who drives politely around the city in search of Good Words like today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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