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  • Paul Anthony Jones


(adj.) half-hearted, apathetic

Laodicean, as any Thomas Hardy fans will doubtless know, means ‘half-hearted’ or ‘apathetic’, or else can be used as a byword for anyone who is indifferent or uninterested in important matters.

The word derives from Laodicea, a city and region of Ancient Greece now located in modern-day Turkey, whose inhabitants were notorious for their religious indifference. In the Book of Revelation, the Laodiceans were one of seven ancient peoples or Christian churches—alongside those of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyateira, Sardis and Philadelphia (no, not that Philadelphia)—to whom messages were to be sent to stir them from their apathy. And in his letter to the Laodiceans, the author of the Book of Revelation John of Patmos accused them of being “neither cold not hot.”

“I would thou wert cold or hot,” he exclaimed, “so, then because thou are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth”. Good old John of Patmos, such a way with words.

It’s this image of someone or something being “neither cold not hot” in their opinions that led to the adjective Loadicean appearing in English in the early 1600s, as another word for a lukewarm disinterest, or apathy regarding important issues like politics and religion. Likewise, Laodiceanism is another word for unconcern or indifference—one thing John of Patmos certainly couldn’t be accused of.


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