Printable Version
Pronunciation: pêr-mê-krai-sis Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: An extended period of instability and insecurity, esp[ecially] one resulting from a series of catastrophic events (Collins Dictionary).

Notes: This word appears in only one dictionary, the British Collins Dictionary; in fact, Collins declared it the 2022 word of the year. The plural of permacrisis is permacrises, like many Latinate words ending in -is: analyses, bases, diagnoses. Like crisis the adjective would be permacritical.

In Play: We will have to wing examples of usage today: "American politics has been in a state of permacrisis for half a century." Other periods of instability and insecurity are not hard to find: "Let's all hope global warming isn't permacritical."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a blend of permanent + crisis, by analogy with permafrost, permapress, and hundreds of others. In fact, most dictionaries list perma- as a combining form of permanent. Permanent was snitched from Old French, passed down from Latin permanen(t)s "enduring", the present participle of permanere "to endure, hold out". The Latin word comprises per "forward, through" + manere "to stay, abide", which Latin inherited from PIE men- "to stay, stand still"—possibly related to men- "mind, think". We see the remains of this word in Armenian mnam "I remain", Greek menein "to stay", Persian mandan "to remain", and Welsh amynedd "patience". We see the root of Latin manere in manor and mansion, place where people abide. (Gratitude today is owed e-mail wordmaster Lew Jury, who discovered it in The Guardian and shared it with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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