Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Bad Donkey!

[Fuseli: Nightmare]

From the Greek word kakos, bad, we have inherited our combining form caco-, (bad, depraved, evil, putrid, etc. ) I remember chanting kakos onos! in my high school sophomore Greek class. Literally, it meant “bad beast of burden.” But to us, it meant “bad ass.”

Aside from the word cacophony (dissonance, harsh sound), we don’t use many of these words in ordinary conversation, but they can be useful.

• cachomyny: unhealthy state of the humors of the body
• cacodemon: evil spirit; nightmare
• cacodorous: ill-smelling
• cacodoxy: bad doctrine
• cacœconomy: bad management or fiscal policy
• cacoëpy: faulty pronunciation
• cacoethes: bad habit; a compulsive proclivity to do something
• cacography: wretched handwriting
• cacology: vicious pronunciation
• caconym: bad terminology
• cacosphyxy: irregular pulse
• cacotrophy: disordered nutrition
• cacotype: an imperfect description in writing

SIDEBAR: Cacophony, the band


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