Wednesday, February 22, 2012


CNBC is running a series called Filthy Rich, and the promo for the show uses the word kleptocracy. It comes from the Greek, and it means government by thieves. In other words, some ruling families are illegally taking money from their citizens.

The word part klepto- means a thief in noun use, and to steal in verb use. It is used in a small number of English words and their variants.

· kleptobiosis: among ants, a system in which small ants steal food from larger ants.

· kleptolagnia: a morbid desire to achieve sexual gratification through theft.

· kleptomania: an irrepressible desire to steal, even if there is no need.

· kleptoparasitism: a form of parasitism in which a bird, insect, or other animal habitually steals prey or food from members of another species.

Occasionally, the –k– will become a –c–, as in cleptomania and cleptoparasitism.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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