Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. compulsion; mania
  • n. A bad quality or disposition in a disease; an incurable ulcer.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A bad custom or habit; an insatiable desire.
  • n. A bad quality or disposition in a disease; an incurable ulcer.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A bad custom or habit; a bad disposition.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an irrational but irresistible motive for a belief or action

Etymologies

Latin, from Ancient Greek κακοήθης (kakoēthēs, "ill-disposed") from κακός (kakos, "bad") + ἦθος (ēthos, "disposition, nature"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Among the rest she was seized with what we men call a cacoethes of the needle: "a raging desire" for work.

    White Lies

  • 'Tis most true, tenet insanabile multos scribendi cacoethes, and [72] there is no end of writing of books, as the wiseman found of old, in this [73] scribbling age, especially wherein [74] the number of books is without number, (as a worthy man saith,) presses be oppressed, and out of an itching humour that every man hath to show himself, [75] desirous of fame and honour

    Anatomy of Melancholy

  • Trimalchionian episode, and the subsequent pamphleteering would by no means eradicate this "cacoethes emendandi."

    Satyricon

  • We must talk, think, and live up to the spirit of the times, and write up to it too, if that cacoethes be upon us, or else we are nought.

    Barchester Towers

  • Boredom, a cluttered mind, and a terminal case of cacoethes scribendi.

    Tracking Route 128….D.C. Churbuck Reports

  • Juvenal wrote that an incurable itch for scribbling cacoethes scribendi takes possession of many, and grows inveterate in their insane breast.

    Tracking Route 128….D.C. Churbuck Reports

  • In the month of June, 1840, Lieutenant Sturt was ordered to survey the passes of the Hindoo Koosh, and I obtained leave from my regiment, then in camp at Cabul, for the purpose of accompanying him; my object was simply to seek pleasant adventures; the "_cacoethes ambulandi_" was strong upon me, and I thirsted to visit the capital of ancient

    A Peep into Toorkisthhan

  • The recovery of the Trimalchionian episode, and the subsequent pamphleteering would by no means eradicate this "cacoethes emendandi."

    The Satyricon — Complete

  • I do not believe that there are any cases of the _cacoethes subscribendi_.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 17, No. 101, March, 1866

  • But in his old age he had fallen a prey to the cacoethes scribendi; he insisted upon having his say about everything, yet his stock of ideas had long since run out.

    The Life and Works of Friedrich Schiller

Comments

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  • Luther while writing his theses
    Strained at producing his feces.
    He scribbled the lot
    While perched on the pot
    In service to both cacoethes.

    March 7, 2014

  • This word is more elegantly, and helpfully, printed with a dieresis (dy-ER-uh-sis: two dots, like an umlaut) over the first /e/ to show that it is pronounced separately from the preceding /o/. — The Orthoepist

    July 2, 2010

  • This word was chosen as Wordnik word of the day.

    November 11, 2009

  • JM evidently has a cacoethes for obscure words

    October 24, 2009

  • Love this word.It was on the Round One Test for the National Spelling Bee last year.

    June 20, 2009

  • Pronounced something like "kako-ethese". Awesome word, difficult pronunciation.

    November 3, 2008

  • from Trollope

    October 1, 2007

  • More elegant than addiction. Less suggestive than desire.

    January 6, 2007