There’s a Word for That: Agathokakological

atkins-bookshelf-wordsWhen you dive into the incredible 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary and open Volume I (A-Bazouki), you come across this wonderful word: agathokakological, an adjective meaning “containing both good and evil.” A perfect word for modern times, no? The word was first used by English poet Robert Southey (1774-1843), one of England’s Poet Laureates, in 1843: “For indeed upon the agathokakological globe there are opposite qualities always to be found.” The word, which the OED identifies as a nonce word, is derived from the Ancient Greek agathos (meaning “good”) and kakos (meaning “bad”). The word is a real mouthful; it is pronounced “a gath o CAC o la ji kel.” Despite the fact that the dichotomy of good and evil is so common in religion, philosophy, and psychology, the word agathokakological is rarely used in those contexts. Go figure. So the next time a discussion of good and evil comes up, use the word nonchalantly to impress your friends and help bring the word into the mainstream. #agathokakological

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