There’s A Word for That: Parvanimity

alex atkins bookshelf wordsIt sounds like a disease, doesn’t it? Parvanimity, however, is defined as small-mindedness or meanness (the antonym, in this case, would be magnanimity). It is derived from the classical Latin root words parvus (from parvi-, meaning “small”) and animus (meaning “mind” or “soul”). The word is pronounced “PARVE ah nim e tee.”

The word was introduced by Robert Boyle (162-1691), an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, physicist, and chemist; he was also fascinated with theology. Boyle is considered one of the founders of modern chemistry. Published in 1661, The Skeptical Chymist is a seminal work in the field of chemistry. Boyle introduced the word parvanimity in his work A Free Discourse Against Customary Swearing; and a Discursive from Cursing (1647): “To all this I must add, that when once it is noted, that the apprehension of being derided for retracting is the sole obstacle that stands between your reaction and of great important a change as your conversion, they will justify your parvanimity of great, that you deserve derision for so poorly fearing it; and so you will fall into that contempt you would decline, by your very shunning of it.” [Also found in The Works of the Honorable Robert Boyle, Volume 6, published in 1772.]

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