caco·​ë·​thes ˌka-kə-ˈwē-(ˌ)thēz How to pronounce cacoëthes (audio)
: an insatiable desire : mania

Word History


borrowed from Latin cacoēthes "malignant tumor at an early stage, disease of character," borrowed from Greek kakóēthes "malignancy, wickedness," noun derivative from neuter of kakoḗthēs "ill-disposed, malicious, (of things) abominable, (of tumors, fevers, etc.) malignant," from kako- caco- + -ēthēs, adjective derivative of êthos "custom, disposition, character" — more at ethos

Note: Use of the word in the sense "insatiable desire" is largely dependent on an oft-quoted line by the Roman satirist Juvenal: "tenet insanabile multos scribendi cacoethes" ("the incurable disease of writing takes hold of many").

First Known Use

circa 1587, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cacoëthes was circa 1587

Dictionary Entries Near cacoëthes

Cite this Entry

“Cacoëthes.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on cacoëthes

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!