So we get page 16 of The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words: Revised Edition. Lots to work with, but I decided to go with a word that describes something I don’t often feel — at least not without chemical help: ataraxy.
These Words Don’t Create Ataraxy
Before moving on to our great word for today, let’s discuss some of the others. One word is really stupid: astromancy. It seems that every page in this dictionary has a word for prophecy based on something. I’m looking forward to “collagenmancy,” which is prophecy by overly large lips. Anyway, a much better word is “asperity.” The dictionary claims it is a sharpness of manner. But better dictionaries tend to use the word “harshness” rather than “sharpness.”
“Asthenia” is also defined rather differently, depending on where you look. I like our dictionary’s definition, “relating to or denoting a physical type characterized by a tall, narrow, lean build.” Merriam-Webster claims it is relating to a lack of strength. Rather different, I think. But that’s the thing about words: they mean lots of things. The complete Oxford English Dictionary is 20 volumes long! Or as Hamlet put it in his vague petulance, “Words, words, words.”
Anyway, on to ataraxy:
1. a calm and tranquil state free from anxiety.
Date: early 17th century.
Origin: French from Greek, απάθεια, which means apathy more or less.
Example: Zinedine Zidane’s aura and ataraxy with a ball on a football pitch is renowned throughout the world. —Rahul Bali