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Pronunciation: kę-kek-si Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. Extremely bad state of health resulting from malnutrition, starvation. 2. Sick or depraved way of thinking, mental malnourishment.

Notes: Look out for the digraph CH in this word; it is the Greek CH, pronounced [k]. The adjective accompanying this noun is cachectic, which leaves the door open for an adverb, cachectically, though it has never been recorded according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The word is also sometimes spelled without the [h], as cacexy.

In Play: Should you ever need to frighten someone who has lost too much weight, you might consider something like: "Rachel, that diet is reducing you to cachexy; here, have a piece of this Chocolate Decadence." This word has long since risen above the purely physical, however: "The cachexy of the political system leaves me none too sanguine about the future of the nation."

Word History: This Good Word comes from Greek kakos "bad" + hexis "state". Kakos comes from the Proto-Indo-European word for "defecate", kaka which, with no change over the millennia, is still used in that sense throughout Europe. Poppycock comes from Dutch pappekak, based on Latin pappa "food" + the Middle Dutch variant of this root, kacken. Cacophony "discordant sound" comes from the same root in Greek, kakos "bad" + phonos "sound." (David Brown of Bailly-Romainvilliers, France worried that this handy little item might wither from misuse, so recommended it to us as an outstanding Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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