Printable Version
Pronunciation: mi-sê-fon-i-ê Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Selective sound sensitivity syndrome, intolerance of certain sounds, less impactful than phonophobia "fear of sounds".

Notes: Although introduced by two audiologists (see Word History), this word hasn't settled in the medical jargon. In fact, the definition (see above) hasn't become widely accepted. When it is, we can expect that the adjective will be misophonic and/or misophonical, and the adverb will be misophonically.

In Play: The definition of this word suggests it is a severe annoynce rather than a medical condition: "Let's not invite Janine to dinner; she suffers from misophonia for the normal sounds of people eating." Since it has not firmly established itself in the medical vocabulary, we are free to use it in everyday English: "The sound of most politicians' voices elicits severe misophonia in many people."

Word History: Today's Good Word was introduced by the Polish-born American audiologists Pawel J. Jastreboff and Margaret M. Jastreboff in "Hyperacusis", an article in Audiology Online, June 18, 2001. The Jastreboffs combined the forms mis(o)- "hatred" + -phonia "sound". Mis(o)- was borrowed from Greek misos "hatred", from PIE meis- "to change", which made its way down to English through its Germanic ancestors as mis- "bad, wrong" as in mistake, mistrust, misdeed and to German as miss- "bad, wrong" (misshandeln "mistreat"). Phone was taken from Greek phone "sound, voice" from a suffixed form of PIE bha- "to speak, say, tell", which also went into the making of English ban, which originally meant "proclamation, declaration". In Latin it emerged as fari "to speak, tell", out of which fama "fame" and fabula "tale, story" emerged. You can easily see how English adopted and adapted these two words. (Now an e-bow and word of thanks to Debbie Moggio for alertly picking up on this newest Good Word and suggesting we investigate it.)

Dr. Goodword,

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