Printable Version
Pronunciation: æn-êl-jee-zee-ê Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. Conscious insensitivity to pain. 2. Relief from pain, medication that relieves pain.

Notes: You probably have had more contact with the adjective for this word, analgesic, which may be used as a noun meaning "pain-killer". The antonym of analgesia is algesia "sensitivity to pain", though this word is encountered mostly in the medical world.

In Play: "Insensitivity to pain" is the initial sense of today's Good Word: "We have learned the hard way that opioid-induced analgesia is addictive." "Relief from pain" is the other meaning of this word: "Placebo analgesia is a phenomenon in which the mere belief you are receiving analgesic treatment can reduce pain."

Word History: The history of this word is short and simple: it comes from Late Latin analgesia, which Latin borrowed from Greek analgesia "lack of feeling, insensitivity". This is a negated noun comprising a(n)- "not, without" + algesia "painfulness". The prefix is found on many Greek borrowings, including anesthesia and anemia. The N is omitted before words beginning with a consonant, so the a- in amoral and atheist is the same prefix. The noun comes from the verb algein "to feel pain, to be pained", based on algos "pain". How Greek came by this word is a complete mystery. (Our long-standing contributor William Hupy reminded us of today's Good Word months if not years ago.)

Dr. Goodword,

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