Cacoethes scribendi

From Hull AWE
Jump to: navigation, search

The unusual Latin phrase (hence best written with italics) cacoethes scribendi means 'an insatiable urge to write'. It is pronounced 'cack-oh-EETH-ease' IPA: /,kæk əʊ 'iːθ iːz/ (or 'cack-er-EETH-ease' IPA: /,kæk ə 'iː θiː z/) 'scribb-END-i IPA: /scrɪ 'bɛnd aɪ/ (or IPA: /scrɪ 'bɛnd iː/). The words come from a Latin verb scribere 'to write' (in the gerund inflection, corresponding to the English verbal noun), and a Greek noun κακόηθες (kakoethes), the combination of the adjective κακός (kakos)‚ 'bad', and noun ἦθος (ethos)‚ 'habit' or 'character': combined, they mean 'bad habit', 'propensity to', or (more colloquially), 'itch'.

It is derived from Juvenal's seventh satire, where he writes:

.... Tenet insanabile multos
Scribendi cacoethes et aegro in corde senescit
(translated in ODQ as "Many suffer from the incurable disease of writing, and it becomes chronic in their sick minds". According to Addison, "This Cacoethes is as Epidemical as the Small-Pox" (Spectator No. 582).
(From Oxford Dictionary of Quotations)