• Paul Anthony Jones


(n.) an excessive desire to stay in bed

The most popular tweet on HH this week was the word clinomania, defined as “an excessive desire to remain in bed”:

The definition of the word “excessive” in that sentence is up to you...

It might sound like one of those words that only ever appears on viral lists of weird words (HH’s perennial nemesis) and never really gets used anywhere else, but there’s actually a fair bit of history behind clinomania.

It first emerged in psychiatric literature in the late nineteenth century, with one article from 1890 identifying it as one of several “phases of sadness”, and defining clinomania as “the passion of staying in bed”. From there it fell into more widespread use in the mid 1900s (it made its debut in the American Illustrated Medical Dictionary in 1951), and has remained in albeit occasional use ever since.

Etymologically, the “clino–” of clinomania comes from a Greek word meaning “to lean”, “slant”, or “recline”. It’s not a particularly productive word root in English today, but it nevertheless crops up in a handful of undeniably useful words like clinopinacoid (“one of the three principal planes in the monoclinic system, running parallel to the vertical and inclined axes”, apparently) and clinoid (“resembling a bed”).

But enough of that, there’s some serious snoozing to be done...

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