Printable Version
Pronunciation: mah-n-may-ni-y Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: A fixation on or obsession with a single object or idea, irrational single-mindedness.

Notes: People with a single-minded obsession are monomaniacs (the personal noun). They are monomaniacal (the adjective) and they behave monomaniacally (the adverb). So today's Good Word comes with plenty of variants to help us through any conversation about monomania.

In Play: Here is a near synonym of obsessiveness and the clumsier single-mindedness that can be applied to any kind of single-minded obsession. "Ray Eagles is a football monomaniac who never watches anything else on TV". (Guess which team he roots for.) You do not have to be a monomaniac, though, to be monomaniacal: "Congress's monomania with the national debt is driving me crazy."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a compound made up of two Greek words we are all familiar with from the plethora of borrowings containing them: mono-s "alone, only, solitary" + mania "passion, enthusiasm, madness." Monos also underlies many English words beginning with mono-, such as monotheism, monopoly, and monotony. That is also it in monk and monastery, a person and place of solitude. Mania is a Greek word meaning "frenzy, madness" that is related to mantis "seer, prophet". It comes from the same root as Latin mens, mentis "mind" that we see in borrowings like mental, as well as the abstract noun suffix -ment. The same original root came through the ancient Germanic languages and landed in English as mind.

Dr. Goodword,

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