Printable Version
Pronunciation: pi-gæl-jee-yê Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Pain in the a..—butt, literally and figuratively.

Notes: Here is the word we have all been waiting for: a medical term for a pain in the butt. It is rarely used to refer to a physical pain, but we must rescue it from the medical domain for its figurative usefulness. Not only does it get your sentiment across, it will send the pest scurrying for a dictionary. The adjective for this word is pygalgic and the adverb, of course, pygalgically.

In Play: We might use this rare word literally, in the medical sense: "I sat in front of the computer so long I had an attack of pygalgia." We might otherwise use the word figuratively: "Callie Pidgeon is such a pygalgia, I can't wait until she goes home!"

Word History: This word is a compound comprising pyge "butt" + algos "pain" + -ia, a noun suffix. If pyge were related to any English word, it would be an obscenity in our beloved language beginning with an F. As such, it would not have been printed until recently (since the media corporations made obscenities fashionable), making tracing its history impossible. It does appear in an earlier Good Word, callipygian. Algos is the noun from algein "to feel pain", also of murky origin. Algia shows up in many English words, such as myalgia "muscle pain" and analgesic "pain-killer" from a(n) "no, not, un-" + algia "pain" + -ic, an adjective-noun suffix. Nostalgia comes from Greek nostos "homecoming" + algia. (Lest we become a pygalgia to our contributor, Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira, another long-standing editor of the Good Word series, let's thank him now for recommending we serve today's excellent Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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