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A.Word.A.Day--hebetudinous

Pronunciation RealAudio

hebetudinous (heb-i-TOOD-n-uhs -TYOOD-) adjective

Dull or lethargic, especially relating to the mind.

[From Late Latin hebetudo (dullness), from Latin hebes (dull).]

"Examination of precedents led the judge to his conclusion, but he had something to say first: 'It would be hebetudinous and obtuse to fail to be cognizant of the adverse consequences of a ruling in this case."
James J. Kilpatrick; A Clown And a Blowhard on the Bench; Buffalo News; Apr 10, 1993.

"The audience waits in a kind of hebetudinous fixation, perhaps astonished at the perfectly sustained level of mediocrity."
Kevin Kelly; 'Aspects of Love': Unlovable; The Boston Globe; Apr 27, 1990.

"I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am." Those candid words of Samuel Johnson, lexicographer extraordinaire, provide a perceptive observation on the human condition. A language is a mirror of its people. As a disinterested record of the language, a dictionary serves as an accurate window to the culture. It's not surprising that there are more words to describe people who fall on the wrong side than on the good. In this week's AWAD we'll look at words for people on both sides.

[Update: The quotation is from Joseph Baretti, not Johnson. See here.]

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