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  • Paul Anthony Jones


(n.) an inclination to worry

a toy robot face looking worried

One of this week’s most popular tweets on HH was the word kedophysis, which neatly sums up something we’re all probably feeling given, y’know, *gestures at everything*:

Yes, kedophysis is a formal term for the inclination to worry. A term from psychiatry, etymologically kedophysis brings together two Greek roots, kedos, meaning “concern,” or “care,” and physis, meaning (in this context at least) “growth,” or “origin.”

Kedos crops up in a handful of equally rarely used words like kedogenous (“brought about by worry or anxiety”), kedocratic (an old word describing anti-anxiety medication or treatements), and kedotherapy (supposedly a form of psychotherapy in which a person’s debilitating worry over a minor personal issue is contextualized by discussing broader, more widespread concerns).

The Greek physis meanwhile is the root of a handful of much more familiar English words, like physiotherapy, physiology, and even physics (which is literally a “natural” science, and takes its name from a fourth century BC work by Aristotle called Physics, or Lectures on Natural Philosophy). In its native Greek, physis was a busy old word used to imply all kinds of different things, from “nature” to “form” or “shape”; from “birth” or “origin” to “temper,” or “disposition”; from “quality” or “property” to “type” or “variety”; and from “creature” to “Nature” as the name of an entity, equivalent to the Mother Nature we speak of today.

In kedophysis, however, physis carries the relatively straightforward sense of “growth” or “birth”—the same sense demonstrated by scientific terms like apophysis (an unnatural growth on the end of bone), hypophysis (an old name for a cataract, literally meaning “overgrowth”), and symphysis (the growing or joining together of two separate bones, like the fusing of a newborn baby’s skull).

#science #Greek #medicine

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