Podcast lackadaisical

Printable Version
Pronunciation: læ-kê-day-zi-kêl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Idle, slow or dreamily indolent. 2. Lacking spirit, drive, commitment or liveliness (but not daisies).

Notes: The Word History will show that today's word is a reduction of a Middle English phrase gussied up with Latin accessories, to wit, the suffixes -ic and -al, appended no doubt to hide its lowly origins. The attempt was successful, for today you may create all the forms those suffixes tolerate from lackadaisical: the adverb lackadaisically, and two nouns, lackadasicality or, if you prefer, lackadaisicalness.

In Play: Lackadaisical implies a slowness brought on by indifference: "Mortimer, am I misjudging you or are you growing a bit lackadaisical in your attitude toward weeding the garden?" This word is a semi-antonym of productive: "We have to find a quick cure for this lackadaisical attitude toward work in this office."

Word History: Today's Good Word started its etymological journey as a rather serious interjection, Alack, the day!, uttered as an indication of a serious disappointment. This is Romeo's reaction upon finding Juliet apparently dead in the last act of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: "Shee's dead, deceast, shee's dead: alacke the day!" As in the case with most interjections, the phrase was soon reduced to a word, lack-a-day and its meaning grew milder. By the mid 18th century the word had become lackadaisy and the meaning came to be somewhat closer to "What the heck!" A century later, lackadaisy's sister, oops-a-daisy, had become upsidaisy, while lackadaisy itself was working as an adjective. Very shortly thereafter lackadaisical emerged with its Latinesque trim and the same "what-the-heck" meaning.

Dr. Goodword,

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