caco·​ë·​thes | \ ˌka-kə-ˈwē-(ˌ)thēz How to pronounce cacoëthes (audio) , -kō-ˈē- \

Definition of cacoëthes

: an insatiable desire : mania

First Known Use of cacoëthes

circa 1587, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cacoëthes

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").

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The first known use of cacoëthes was circa 1587

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cacoëthes scribendi

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Cite this Entry

“Cacoëthes.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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